Hampshire-based Leslie Francis, who owns Enham Village Post Office & Stores in Enham Alamein, wept tears of joy when she received the news that she had been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list with a British Empire Medal.
“I was so surprised and honoured to receive the medal,” said Leslie, who is the village postmistress and runs the Spar store with her husband Tim. “I got a phone call out of the blue and had tears of joy running down my face but I couldn’t let on, even to a friend who was in the shop at the time, only to reassure her that it was good news.”
She was recognised for the range of services she provides to her local community. “Our shop is the hub of Enham Alamein and we love serving this community, neighbouring villages and passers-by,” she said. “We adapted the shop to make wider aisles to make it easier for our customers in wheelchairs or walking sticks and frames.”
Rod Tucker, sales director for Appleby Westward, said: “We are delighted for Leslie. She and Tim are model Spar retailers who never hesitate to go that extra mile for everyone in their community.”
Nick Read, Post Office chief executive, said: “I personally know Leslie and Tim and they are great ambassadors for the Post Office. They really go above and beyond for their community, adapting their store to make it easier for the large proportion of their customers who are elderly or disabled, arranging home deliveries, fundraising and putting on big celebrations for the village for special occasions.”
Post Office area manager, Mitchell Taylor, added: “To hear that Leslie has been mentioned in the New Year Honours is truly inspiring. She is an absolute pillar of not just her community but surrounding villages and parishes. She is a member of our internal postmaster forums where she regularly joins and contributes to our future - a true Post Office ambassador. Leslie has a unique vision for her business and the first question she asks with any change is ‘How will this affect my community?’ I often joke that Leslie doesn’t sleep. It’s been such a privilege to work and support Leslie and her team over the last four years. Well done!”
Leslie and Tim moved over to Spar four years ago, having run the 100-year-old village store since 2004.
“We have always set high standards here and believe in moving with the times so we moved the business under the Spar fascia to give the store a real uplift for the future and we haven’t looked back,” said Leslie, who is also chairman of the parish council.