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Two men celebrate 50 years of work at Norfolk service station and post office

PUBLISHED: 08:41 03 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:41 03 November 2017

Postmaster (L) Charlie Mitchell (84) and his brother-in-law Keith White (70) are celebrating 50 years' of service at Bale Post Office. Picture: Ian Burt

Postmaster (L) Charlie Mitchell (84) and his brother-in-law Keith White (70) are celebrating 50 years' of service at Bale Post Office. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

Two men who have kept a community motoring for 50 years have been given a special award.

The Countryside Service Station and Post Office in Bale. Picture: Ian Burt The Countryside Service Station and Post Office in Bale. Picture: Ian Burt

Charlie Mitchell, 84, and his brother-in-law Keith White, 70, have worked at the Countryside Service Station and Post Office in Bale since 1962 and said they felt “very proud” to be given a long service award for their work in the community.

Mr Mitchell opened the filling station after becoming frustrated with having to drive a sugar beet lorry all the way to Fakenham in order to get petrol.

Shortly after the business opened he employed Mr White, at the age of 15, and the duo divided their time between operating the shop and filling cars.

One year later Mr Mitchell married Mr White’s sister Marianne.

Pictured in 1971, the Countryside Service Station and Post Office at Bale. Picture: Ian Burt Pictured in 1971, the Countryside Service Station and Post Office at Bale. Picture: Ian Burt

In 1967 the village Postmaster left his job and the community asked Mr Mitchell to take on the Post Office duties, marking the first expansion of the business.

Twenty seven years later Mr Mitchell expanded the business further by demolishing the original building and replacing it with a larger, modern petrol station with a bigger store and a separate Post Office.

He continues to work there every day as Postmaster, while his three daughters Sharon Wheller, Sarah Mitchell, Katie Brooke and son-in-law Paul Wheller all work alongside him.

Mr White is also still working there, logging 34 hours a week, and the pair say they have no intention of retiring anytime soon. “I couldn’t retire. I’m still out of bed at 6am to open up the shop,” said Mr Mitchell.

Postmaster (L) Charlie Mitchell (84) and his brother-in-law Keith White (70) are celebrating 50 years' of service at Bale Post Office. Picture: Ian Burt Postmaster (L) Charlie Mitchell (84) and his brother-in-law Keith White (70) are celebrating 50 years' of service at Bale Post Office. Picture: Ian Burt

“I am delighted to receive the award as Postmaster and for Keith to also be recognised for his half century serving Post Office customers.

“I am also pleased that my family are now running the business on a day-to-day basis and will continue to serve so many nearby communities. We have employed more than 100 young local people during our time, who have started their work careers here.”

Mr White added: “The filling station, shop and Post Office, is on a busy main road between Fakenham and Holt, so we get passing trade and serve the community of Bale and around 
10 local villages. We provide a vital service for this rural area. The community knows us and 
we know them. They really 
would be lost without this service.”

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