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Community / Thirty years at the helm of Fair Isle post office and shop

Postmistress Fiona Mitchell has been given a long service award by the Post Office

THE COUPLE who run the Fair Isle post office and shop have been thanked for their “long and loyal service” after racking up 30 years in the role.

Fiona and Robert Mitchell have run the Stackhoull Stores shop, which features the post office, since 1993.

Postmistress Fiona Mitchell has now been given a long service award from the Post Office.

The job is not without its challenges, with transport particularly affected in the winter months.

She said: “Royal Mail uses the ferry where possible but this can be delayed in winter. I will get a call to say there’s a break in the weather, the plane will be here in 30 minutes.

“I then scoop up all the mail to get it away as soon as possible. The weather might then be bad for days, so you have to seize the opportunity. You have to learn to be flexible living here.”

She said the best thing about being postmistress for Fair Isle and running the shop is “that you provide essential services to local people, and we know them all”.

Fiona Mitchell. Photo: Post Office

“We get new customers too with tourists,” Mitchell added.

The island, located between the Shetland mainland and Orkney, has a population of around 50.

It is accessed by a flight from Tingwall Airport, or by the Good Shepherd ferry from mainland Shetland.

Mitchell, who is also a retained firefighter, said the shop stayed open throughout the pandemic to provide vital services.

“We made sure that we had fewer people in the shop to allow for social distancing,” she added.

“We took lots of precautions on Fair Isle. Although we are a remote island, so less chance of people getting it, we couldn’t take any risks as if Covid came to the islands and people got really ill, then it was going to be very difficult to quickly evacuate people to a hospital.”

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Post Office area manager Louise Duff said: “Fiona knows that she can always call me with any questions, but Fiona knows what she’s doing after 30 years in the role.

“Fiona and Robert are providing a great service to the people of Fair Isle and tourists too. I want to thank them for their long and loyal service.”

Fiona was born in Denbigh, but her parents wanted a more rural way of life.

Her mum worked for the NHS and there was a temporary vacancy on Fair Isle for a nurse, which then became permanent.

In 1973 Fiona and her brothers moved to the island, but their secondary education was on the Shetland mainland.

Before becoming a postmistress, Fiona also pursued a nursing career. She ran a respite care centre for people with additional needs in Shetland.

Meanwhile Robert Mitchell is originally from Fife and is a butcher by trade who then went into wholesale retail.

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