A popular sub-postmaster who fought for almost a decade to keep a historic Fylde post office open has announced his resignation after a battle with ill health.
Coun Mark Bamforth, 56, revealed he will step down from his role in Warton Street, Lytham, on Tuesday.
It is with great sadness I have tendered my resignation to Post Office Ltd
Coun Bamforth, whose family has owned the post office for more than 50 years, fought to keep the business open on several occasions, despite attempts by the Post Office to close the branch as part of a cost-cutting and modernisation project.
He revealed it is now “unlikely” the post office and shop, which first opened in 1882, will remain open, but said he would work hard to provide a replacement postal service in the town.
He said: “It is with great sadness I have tendered my resignation to Post Office Ltd.
“I am leaving on ill health as I have been off for several weeks and I have let you all down with the office being closed.
“I would just like to say a huge thank you to all customers that have given me and my late father, Jack, and mother, Betty, the tremendous support over the last 51 years.
“I will be working closely with Post Office Ltd to provide a service to replace Warton Street and to support the new postmaster.”
He added: “I can honestly say the decision I have made today has been the biggest decision I have ever had to make in my life as I have been in retail 41 years. (I have had) no-one to discuss or talk things through with, it was made easier to decide what to do with the state of my health.
“All the customers are like family and as quite a lot have said, you have seen me grow up.
“It’s been a very emotional day and will be for sometime, especially when the door closes for good. Thank you for all your concerns and support just now and in the past.”
Coun Bamforth, who revealed he will stay on as a councillor, has battled to keep the community service open since 2008, when the branch was first earmarked for closure.
Hundreds of residents marched through the streets of Lytham to keep the branch open.
And in April he won a 12-month reprieve for the business after more than 660 residents signed a petition to keep the counter in Warton Street.
Fylde Council leader, Coun Sue Fazackerley, called Coun Bamforth an institution in the town.
She added: “He has done a very good job in that part of Lytham in his professional life and a local point of contact for the council.
“He is a bit of a Lytham institution and a lot of people hold him in high esteem.
“I wish him success in his life.”
Posting messages on Facebook, residents praised the outgoing postmaster.
Anam Cara said: “I am sorry to hear you have had to resign Mark Bamforth, I do hope that your life is much less stressful now you have made the decision.”
Ann-Mariea Boyd added: “You fought well Mark and sadly for the people of Lytham they have lost a great postmaster ,whose only thought was to look after his customers.”
Sue Pickup added: “Such a shame Mark - as quite a new customer I can honestly say I’ll miss the service and friendly welcome so I know you will be greatly missed by many others, but your health is more important and it’s time for you now.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies added: “I am very sad to hear that Mark has decided to step down after many years serving the local community as Warton Street postmaster.
“Since coming to Parliament I have fought alongside Mark to ensure the post office remains in place at Warton Street and have today written to the company to say that I expect that service to continue, in spite of Mark’s decision.
“Mark’s family has been a mainstay in the area for a long time and I am sure many people will miss the personal touch they brought to the role. But sometimes you have to put your health first and I want to add my very best wishes for the future to those of the local community he has served.”