A STRABANE postman has made his last deliver after more than three decades making sure locals received their mail on time.
Paul Carlin began his postal career in April 1986 delivering to the residents of the Ballycolman.
Since then he has visited many areas of the town and surrounding countryside as a rural postman but his longest postal duty was serving the people of Hill Mount Grove, Glenview Park, Curlyhill Road, Liskey, Camus, Bearney, Carrigullen, Legfordrum, Deragult and Evish- effectively carrying out the ‘Legfordrum Delivery’.
As he prepares to hang up his postbag Paul spoke of his highs and lows as a proud Strabane postie. He recalled, “I remember my first day in Strabane like it was yesterday, I was filled with so much pride. I walked up to Castle Street, from Lower Main Street ,where I lived with my wife Loretto and our two daughters; Lisa and Paula, (Claire, arrived in December the same year), to begin, what was to be the rest of my working life.
“My first big memory, was the terrible flood which hit the town in October 1987. Our house in Lower Main Street was devastated and the delivery office was almost destroyed, but the mail never stopped and deliveries continued throughout, with minimal disruption.
“The Troubles were coming to the final stages during my early days, but there were still incidents which shocked and disrupted our routine but never halted it completely. The industrial relations between the Communication workers Union, CWU, and Royal Mail, was always bubbling just below the surface, and would erupt every so often.
But the solidarity within the Strabane delivery office branch was never in question and on more than one occasion Strabane led the fight on workers rights and pay disputes in Northern Ireland. The office was of the first in the Northern Sector to move to a five day week, lead by a young Union man, Martin Duffy.”
AN EVER EVOLVING CAREER
During his time in Strabane Paul took on a number of roles in the Strabane office including Union Rep, Union Learning Rep and Health and Safety Rep.
An ever evolving career Paul explained, “The job has changed over the years in so many ways, from the vans to the technology now in use on delivery, to the new improved uniform but the biggest change has being the amounts of mail we are delivering today.
“March 2020 began the hardest time in my career, with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Initially, the business wasn’t prepared for both the virus and second the enormous rise in mail due to the upsurge in on-line activity. The Strabane office was small to begin with, but during the initial weeks and months of the current crises, we were totally swamped daily.
Both had their impact on staff, and it was this that completely floored me personally, causing me to retire earlier than planned. Since August 2021, I have made great strides in my recovery, and with the help from my family and friends, work colleagues, Royal Mail’s occupational health team and locally, the Koram Centre, I hope to be back to full health very soon.
I will miss the comradeship within the office and the unique atmosphere encountered every Christmas, the best time to be a postie for sure.”
Paul has been on extended ill health leave since March 2021, having suffered a minor breakdown but with the help of his close friends, immediate family and Royal Mail’s occupational health department Paul has bounced back to almost full health again.
Concluding Paul added, “I have truly being blessed when working for Royal Mail, the friends I have made will last for many years to come. I have enjoyed my time delivering people’s mail, and I will always remember the friendliness, warmth and generosity shown to me, and to those customers I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to each and every one.”
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