Two best pals have brought new life to a closed post office and general store in Rufforth.

Sheila Brown, 46 and Sue Greenbank, 45, are preparing to reopen the store next month.

Ever since its closure in January, villagers have had to make a three-mile journey to Acomb or to other villages to pick up their pensions or stock up on groceries.

Now Sheila and Sue, whose families go on holiday together, have appealed to the people of Rufforth: "Please support us."

The Rufforth Village Shop in Main Road closed unexpectedly when the owner, Andrew Baird, 49, abandoned it to care for his wife, Joan, 44.

As reported in the Evening Press, Mrs Baird is recovering after two liver transplants, kidney failure and the collapse of her lungs.

Sheila, of Maythorpe, Rufforth, who yesterday successfully applied to Post Office Counters for a sub postmistress title, said: "Sue heard last November that the shop was in difficulty. She broached with me the idea of buying it and I thought then that it would be a good idea."

Once it closed, they thoroughly investigated the possibility then, within 24 hours, made an offer.

There was talk of another bid being made by Walmgate Properties Limited in York, but in the end the agents agreed Sheila and Sue's offer.

Sue, of Wetherby Road, Rufforth, who has just given up her job as a nursery at Kaleidoscope in Foxwood, to take up her new challenge, said: "Everywhere we go in Rufforth, people express their delight and they seem very excited but there is lots to do before we open."

Sheila said: "It desperately needs a coat of paint. And we need to fill it with around £10,000 worth of stock.

"Sue will be responsible for the stock, and where I was a bookkeeper, now I'll be doing it for ourselves. We'll both be in charge of sales."

Barclays offered free banking for a year should they need it, and room has been made in special notices in the parish newsletter.

Sheila said: "We want the message to go out that people should bring their pensions and family benefits back to us. Give us your support and we'll keep it running."

The shop will revert to being a newsagent as well as a grocery and fruiterer. It will also be licensed by Camelot to sell lottery tickets.

Sue said: "If we have one regret, it is that the off-licence had run out. It means that eventually we will have to find another £700 or £800 to re-license it, but we will do it gradually without borrowing it. It's all part of our business plan."

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.