THE hard-working couple from Largs who run the town's last post office have urged the community to keep using the services they provide.

Susan Craddock and her husband David have run the Gallowgate Square facility, and the Tea in the Square cafe on the same premises, since 2017.

But while things were promising at first Susan, says it's now a struggle to survive despite the support they're getting from local residents.

She also says that the Horizon IT scandal highlighted by the ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office in January hasn't helped.

The scandal - covered in one form or another by the media for many years, but catapulted into the public consciousness by the four-part ITV series starring Toby Jones, Monica Dolan and Will Mellor - has been dubbed as “the most widespread miscarriage of justice in UK history” after hundreds of sub-postmasters wrongly prosecuted after faulty computer software said money was missing from post office branch accounts.

Susan was not one of those prosecuted - but she says the public's greater awareness of the scandal hasn't been a good thing for the business.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Susan and David have been running the Post Office in Gallowgate Square since 2017Susan and David have been running the Post Office in Gallowgate Square since 2017 (Image: Susan and David Craddock)

"People are staying away from post offices and not trusting the software," she said.

"That is a huge worry for me. There are problems with banks imposing limits on how much businesses can deposit, which has had an impact. 

"People are staying away because they think they can be impacted by the software, but they really can't.

“We haven’t done anything wrong and we’re both exhausted.

"My husband and I haven’t taken a wage for years. I can’t let the people of Largs down or the amazing staff who work day in and out for us.

“We have got a lot quieter and we are barely surviving. We are just taking it month by month.”

Susan has spent her entire working life, since the age of 17, with the Post Office - first in Brisbane Road, then in West Kilbride, and later at the Largs post office's former home in Aitken Street.

In 2008 she was asked to take on the vacant post of Largs postmistress and she paid £20,000 to the Post Office to run her own branch in the town, initially in Main Street and then for the last seven years in Gallowgate Square.

She told the News: “Throughout my time, I have absolutely loved my job and the people. And when the opportunity opened for me to run my own branch, I took it. I needed to get my teeth into something.

“I knew if the branch in Largs was sold to somebody who didn’t have the right ethics it wouldn’t survive, so I took it upon myself to take it over."

After a spell in Main Street, the couple opted to move to bigger premises in Gallowgate Square, where they were able to make use of David's culinary skills by opening the popular cafe.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: She has now sent out an urgent plea to use the lifeline service She has now sent out an urgent plea to use the lifeline service (Image: Susan Craddock)

“David is a chef so we decided to open the café alongside the branch," she said.

"The post office needs another business to prop it up.”

The business was advertised for sale online last month, though Susan says she has no plans to walk away unless and until a sale is concluded.

The 57-year-old now wants to send a clear message to the community that she is more than just a woman running a post office - he is a vital service and a lifeline for many people.

“We can’t thank the people of Largs enough for their ongoing support," Susan continued.

“We are doing everything we can to keep things just the same, and if you can carry on using us then we will appreciate it.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Susan says she hasn't taken a wage in years Susan says she hasn't taken a wage in years (Image: Newsquest)“We get asked about everything from ferry times to TV licences, but we try our best.

"We are a face for people who need their questions answered. I think we provide a social service that is not recognised at all.

“Even in the unlikely event I do sell it, I still want it to be a post office.

"I want the staff to still be there and I want the customers to still support it.”

The Tea in the Square café now also offers delivery through Just Eat, outside catering, afternoon tea and a weekly stall at Largs Market.