TWO postmasters from Shrivenham were recognised for keeping their branch open during the pandemic even as they struggled with coronavirus.

Matthew and Sarah Thorne run the village's post office and became finalists in the Better for Customers category at the Post Office’s We’re Stronger Together regional awards.

Postmasters who work in the south west had the opportunity to share their experiences of serving customers and keeping the branch running.

Matthew Thorne said: “We were surprised, thrilled and humbled with the award all at the same time. The last few months have been very difficult but we have amazing customers and a brilliant team of staff.”

Post Office area manager Rachel Chidgey said: “Matthew and Sarah have been nominated because of the proactive steps they took to protect customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Although they caught the virus themselves in the early stages of lockdown, the team managed to keep the Shrivenham core branch, as well as their other six outreach branches, open. The team went further in organising perspex screens for the branch while Sarah put other branches in touch with their screen supplier to help their protective efforts.

“Matthew, Sarah and team have worked constantly to review their opening times and make available as many services as possible during this difficult time.”

Chief executive Nick Read said: "I have heard many inspiring stories of postmasters going the extra mile and I have welcomed the opportunity to hear first-hand how postmasters in the south west have fared during the pandemic, including Shrivenham.

"All retailers have been affected and Post Office was no exception. The next few weeks and months will be a critical period as we try and return to a sense of normality. Post Office branches have a vital role to play in supporting their customers and communities, as well as helping small businesses and independent retailers get back on their feet.”