A POPULAR sub-postmistress who worked for the postal service in north west Sutherland for more than 60 years, has died.
Great-grandmother Esther Brauer, who ran Kylesku Post Office from a tiny hut in her garden, passed away at Melvich Community Care Unit last Friday at the age of 86.
Her funeral service takes place at Lochinver Church of Scotland tomorrow.
Originally from Elphin, Mrs Brauer settled in Kylesku aged 18 when she married her first husband, Ian Clark, whose parents ran the old post office from their home.
When they moved to Tain, she took over the post office, starting work in 1953 – the year of the Queen’s Coronation.
After her first husband died, she married Walter Brauer, former head ferryman at Kylesku, and moved a mile along the road to his home at Ferry House.
From 1983 Mrs Brauer ran the post office from a 8ft by 6ft shed in the garden, believed to be Britain’s smallest post office.
Until she was 60, she was also the local post woman, delivering mail on an arduous 18-mile route. She stood down from that role in 1991 and was presented with a gold watch and substantial cheque by the community.
Mrs Brauer celebrated 60 years’ service in April, 2013, and was presented with a Long Service Award by Post Office area manager Kenny Lamont.
Mr Lamont said at the time: “I have known Esther for the past 15 years, a fraction of her career with us. She is well known and highly respected in this small Highland community.
“She has shown incredible dedication to serving her local community.
“We have a small number of exceptionally long-serving sub postmasters and mistresses in Scotland and Mrs Brauer ranks amongst the very best of them.”
Asked at the presentation, when she would retire, Mrs Brauer responded: “Why give it up? I like doing the job so will continue as long as I can. I may be 82 but I’m only 22 in my head and feel I would be letting people down if I did.
“It is still a lifeline service because we are so remote.”
Grateful visitors to her post office sent her post cards and Christmas cards from across the globe.
Mrs Brauer did eventually retire in 2014. During her career she saw the introduction of post codes and the internet. She also saw the cost of sending a letter rise from tuppence ha’penny to 65p.
She is survived by her husband, Walter, and two sons, John and Hugh and extended family.
Tomorrow’s service begins at 1pm and thereafter to Stoer Cemetery.