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Mangrove Post Office will never be the same

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Postmaster General George Outerbridge presents retiring Mangrove Bay Postmistress Maurita Thompson with a distinctive plaque on her retirement.

It was far from business as usual at the Mangrove Bay Post Office in Somerset on Wednesday. An estimated stream of nearly 300 people from all stations of life having heard that Maurita Thompson was retiring that day after exactly 39 years and nine months of dedicated service to the Bermuda Post Office, ventured there to wish her well.Twenty-five of those years had been spent as Postmistress of Mangrove Bay.Maurita, as she’s respectfully known, far and wide, by young and not so young alike, chose December 15 to announce she was “bowing out” because on that date she was celebrating her 65th birthday; and she wanted her family, friends and colleagues to know she was having a treat for them, from lunchtime to closing time.As it turned out, it seemed to be the other way around. Many had a treat for her. They brought or sent flowers, hot and cold food, and enough goodies perhaps to fill to overflowing all the boxes in the post office. There were other more tangible tokens of love and esteem. And Maurita was hugged, kissed and embraced so much to probably require time out for recovery from that alone.There were also some tears, and friends pretended not to notice Maurita’s eyes welling up during the afternoon, as tributes were voiced about her friendly service along with her staff. Premier Paula Cox came as a personal friend, along with her husband. So did former Premier Alex Scott and his wife. Post Master General George Outerbridge came as did two retired post masters, Sydney Corbett and Cleveland Crichlow. Former Cabinet Ministers Randy Horton and Walter Lister were joined by other several other personages.Mr. Outerbridge openly declared he was a comparative “greenhorn” when he began his ascendancy in the postal service, and he thanked Mrs. Thompson for so freely sharing her expertise with him.A quarter-century ago when Maurita moved from the General Post Office in Hamilton, the Somerset post office shared space in the building now totally accommodating the Somerset Police Station. She was heavily involved in the move from there to what was formerly called The Armoury. Old timers remember that’s the building where the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corp (BVRCs) mustered during the early years of the 20th Century.Maurita could hardly have had a more blustery and cold day for her retirement celebration. So a big tent was erected for the much needed shelter, the decorated tables and service of the refreshments.When asked what she planned to do, having retired from Government service, Mrs. Thompson said she’s just going to “take it light” at least for the next several months. She’s the mother of two, Government Pilot Mario Thompson and Mrs. Zolita Smith; grandmother of five as well as two great-grands.Maurita’s several siblings include barrister and former MP Ed Bailey and former Bermuda International cricketer and Somerset Cup Match Captain Joe Bailey; retired Customs Officer Edna Smith and Pat Edwards, whose late husband Lennett Edwards was once Bermuda’s Commissioner of Police.More Island Notebook: Page 20

Premier Paula Cox had an embrace for her personal friend the retiring Maurita Thompson, who was jointly celebrating her retirement and her 65th birthday.