30 years of first class service ...

Stephen Whelan
Stephen Whelan

Passers by give subpostmaster Stephen Whelan a friendly wave, customers call him ‘Steve’ and four generations of townsfolk now come in to Markinch Post Office to be served by him.

Steve is celebrating 30 years as a subpostmaster at the town post office.

He was 21 and working as a chef when he joined his mother-in-law, Dorothy Scott, as a clerk in 1979.

She’d owned and run the Post Office with her husband George since 1968, taking over from him in 1980 when he died suddenly. Sadly she passed away in April this year, aged 86.

Steve said: “I worked for her until she retired in 1984 and I became subpostmaster.

“The hours you work as a chef are tough on a family man. You often work until 11.00 p.m. The Post Office is very different; it’s much better for a family.”

Steve and his wife Margary, who occasionally helped out in the Post Office, along with their now grown-up daughter and son, live behind the historic premises.

“It’s a listed building, which used to be the main Post Office depot and has lots of character,” he said.

“I have photos of postmen sitting outside it in 1903. People can’t believe it when they come in – I couldn’t modernise it.”

Steve was recognised by the community a few years ago, winning the ‘Citizen of the Year’ award.  He also attended the Queen’s Garden Party in Holyrood, for his services to the community. 

Over the years, Steve’s seen many changes, the biggest being computerisation.

“I used to spend two or three hours balancing the books and filling in a ledger, and sending them off with dockets for pension allowances, TV licence, savings stamps and motor vehicle licences,” he recalled.

“Now I balance the books in 15 minutes.”

It’s 10 years before Steve officially retires, when he plans to play more golf and spend time in the garden.

He said: “I’ve no regrets; it was hard work to start with but as the years go by it’s got easier.

“The knowledge I’ve acquired working here means I often help other branches who call me for advice because they know I’ve been here that long!”

Steve received his long service award from Ian Duncan, field change adviser for the Post Office.