Three things spring to mind when you meet Louise Sherwood – a love of the outdoors, an affinity with animals and a sadness that the Post Office closed its Pateley Bridge sorting office.
Yes, Louise is our postie and a welcome, familiar figure to the residents of her round in Pateley Bridge. Born and brought up in the dale Louise has lived in Fellbeck, Bewerley and Glasshouses.
After leaving St Aidan’s she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life.
All she knew was that being confined in an office was not for her, so while she considered her future Louise accepted a job in a pet shop. It was in Harrogate.
She was young, the hours were long and as her contract involved dog walking it meant that she was arriving home very late. Still unsure of what she wanted to do she went for a six-month trial with the Post Office.
That was 20 years ago and she has been with the service ever since.
It was while working here that she met her husband who was also a postman, so now there are two Post Office vans parked outside their house every night.
Describe a typical day
We leave the house at 7am and set off to Harrogate to pick up our mail. If the winter weather is bad, we travel in convoy and armed with our winter allocation of shovels and salt we help one another.
It is usually around 10am when I am back in Pateley and start my round.
My area is the High Street, Bridgehousegate, Panorama Way, Nidd Walk, the American Estate and part of Glasshouses. Deliveries usually finish about 3pm.
Once home I walk about 10 miles with my three lively Border Collies.
Dogs are my passion and I qualified in dog training with special emphasis on behaviour management and psychology.
Now I tend to concentrate on training my own dogs and entering them for agility competitions. My empathy with dogs has helped me with the ones that I meet on my round and one particular German Shepherd is always waiting enthusiastically to greet me.
I have enjoyed horse riding since I was a little girl and now I am fortunate in having a friend who several times a week allows me to ride her horse. It is fortunate that Graeme and I work the same days. We work five days and then have two days off.
Every six weeks we have a long weekend which encompasses the Friday and the Monday, and this enables us to go away.
What would be your perfect day out?
We take the caravan and go to a lovely site at Ullswater. This site gives us access to the whole of the Lakes We particularly like it out of season and the dogs are made very much at home on the farm. They know when they arrive that they will have some long and interesting walks.
What is your favourite Nidderdale business?
Park View Stores. Sadly, it is on my round and I cannot resist the wonderful baking smells that come forth when I take in their post. I am always drawn towards their cheese counter and more often than not come away with a cake to eat in the van.
What is the biggest change you have seen in Nidderdale?
More tourists are coming to the Dale and even though more houses are being built we have still lost our own sorting office and our own Post Office in a prominent position on the High Street.
What makes Nidderdale special?
If you are in the centre of one of the villages or even in the middle of Pateley you are surrounded by the most incredible countryside. Wherever you walk there is so much to see.
If there is one thing that you could change what would it be?
Because I so enjoy walking and the outdoor life, I would think that I have almost the perfect job.
However, I suppose this will not come as a surprise when I say I would bring back our sorting office to Pateley as this would save me that drive into Harrogate each morning.