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One of world's smallest post offices near Loch Ness closes following death of postmistress

By Val Sweeney

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Dores Post Office operated out of a broom cupboard.
Dores Post Office operated out of a broom cupboard.

One of the world’s smallest post offices, located near the shores of Loch Ness, has closed following the death of its popular postmistress.

Lily King, who was 72, ran Dores Post Office from a 4ft by 7ft broom cupboard in her ex-husband’s home.

It claimed the title of the UK’s smallest post office and was once dubbed the world’s smallest.

As well as providing an important service for local residents, it attracted curious tourists from countries as far away as Australia and America.

Although her ex-husband Norrie Donald – a former Highland councillor – would have been happy for someone else to take it on at his home in Strath Gardens, the Post Office has decided it will not be able to continue there, and is looking at possible alternatives.

Mrs King, who lived in Torr Gardens, died peacefully in Raigmore Hospital and her funeral was held last week.

Lily King ran the post office for 26 years.
Lily King ran the post office for 26 years.

Tributes have been paid for her community service, while some reflected that the closure of the post office which she ran for 26 years marked the end of era.

She was born in Inverness and was one of 11 children.

She and Mr Donald married in 1977 and had a son, Bryan.

Although the couple later split up and she married journalist Bob King, the trio remained friends while Mrs King continued to run the post office in her former home. Mr King died in 2010, aged 71.

Mr Donald, who turns 86 later this month, said: "Although we split up, we were still friends. I was also friendly with Bob.

"I suppose it was a funny set-up, but we managed to retain that friendship. That never went away."

The post office operated out of a cupboard in the corner of a conservatory.

"It used to get tour buses stopping and people would get out their cameras," Mr Donald said.

He added Lily had been very good at running the post office, and he was disappointed by the decision to close it permanently.

"She was a friendly type and spoke to everyone," he said.

Dores resident John Hedger, who first trained to provide holiday cover in the post office 15 years ago, had run the service since mid-December, although it remained Mrs King’s responsibility.

"The Post Office has performed an assessment of the office and, with an average of 25 transactions a week over the past 12 months, decided to end the current service," he said.

"If the demand is there from the community, the Post Office said they will look into an alternative service, such as a mobile office."

Mr Hedger has been asked if he would take it on temporary basis, but decided against it as he has a bed and breakfast business which is on the market.

" am sad to see it go – there has been a post office in Dores for a long time," he reflected. "It is the end of an era."

Paying tribute to Mrs King, he said she was an integral part of the Dores community.

"She was fun and loved people,” he said. "She was interested in what was going on in the community."

Dores Community Council chairwoman Ella MacRae was a long-standing friend of Mrs King.

"She always helped people and was always able to point them in the right direction," she said.

"She was at the heart of the community.

"She helped to run the youth club when she was younger and she helped to run the gala."

The Post Office said it will look at alternative provision following the closure of Dores Post Office.
The Post Office said it will look at alternative provision following the closure of Dores Post Office.

A Post Office spokeswoman said they were saddened by the death of Mrs King and appreciated her loyal long service to the community.

Having discussed the future of the branch with her family, it had been decided it would not be able to continue at its current premises.

"The Dores community was well-served by loyal, hard-working Lily for 26 years," she said.

"We will now need to look to see how we can best provide Post Office services to this community. The nearest alternative branches are Drumblair, Kinmylies, Inverness and Merkinch."

Related story: Call for new post office after latest branch closure in Inverness

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