Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

Closure encourages career change

Gully the seagull: Pic Jon Cleave
The postmaster has written and illustrated books about a seagull

The closure of a sub post office in Cornwall has been described as both a curse and a blessing by its postmaster - with it leading him to a new career.

Jon Cleave has run the post office in Port Isaac for the past 19 years, but it is due to close in January as part of Post Office Limited cutbacks.

Mr Cleave said the decision has spurred him on to concentrate on a new career as a children's author and illustrator.

"What started as writing for pleasure has changed significantly," he said.

Post Office Limited announced in September that 48 Cornish branches are to be axed.

This has opened up a new world for me
Jon Cleave
Unlike many sub post offices based in village shops, the Port Isaac branch on the edge of the harbour in Fore Street is part of Boathouse Stores, which sells knitwear and gifts.

"Without the post office, we're reliant on visitors coming to the village so we've got to diversify," Mr Cleave told BBC News.

Having written some children's tales about a naughty seagull named Gully, the postmaster decided to have them published and sell them in his shop and on his website.

"I was sure I'd sell some, but it's been amazing. I've sold nearly 10,000," he said.

"It just seems to have filled a niche, so I'm now developing some merchandise to go along with the books, like soft toys, pencil cases, kites and finger puppets.

"Truthfully, the writing's been on the wall for a while with the post office, but this has opened up a new world for me."

Mr Cleave said although villagers were upset at the thought of losing the post office, they had been "totally supportive".

"The locals have been really great and I'm getting invited into local schools to do readings and sing some songs about Gully."

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