The Cayman Islands Post Office staff and management witnessed the end of an era Monday, 3 April as Bodden Town’s district manager, Mrs. Petrea Kelly, retired.
After 33 years of service, Mrs. Kelly, surrounded by friends and family, said adieu to many well-wishers at the Webster Memorial Church Hall in Bodden Town. And what a send-off it was: Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow, Acting Postmaster General Anthony Williams, Deputy Postmaster General of Finance Ann James, all three of Bodden Town’s MLAs -Anthony Eden, Charles Clifford and Osbourne Bodden – and the Minister for Communications, Works and Infrastructure, Arden McLean, took part in the ceremony.
Mrs. Kelly, or Miss Pet, as she is affectionately called, is a part of local postal history, as she has experienced the unprecedented growth of the Cayman Islands Post Office from the day that she started in 1973 until her retirement in 2006.
Mrs. Kelly was encouraged by a teacher, the late Hildred Ebanks, to take up the post of Sub-Postmistress for Bodden Town. She said it was ‘a leap of faith’ because at time she was offered the position she was also the sole caregiver for her ailing mother, Lizette McCoy, who had suffered a stroke.
In the early days she worked part-time, about four hours day. The building that housed the Post Office also housed a jail. This was before the Post Office had delivery vans.
‘Our customers didn’t even have individual boxes. I would place the mail in pigeonholes,’ Miss Pet explained.
‘In the mornings I would ride two miles from my house to the Post Office to prepare the mail for Mrs. Ailaine Watler who would drop the mail off to George Town and pick up the new mail. She would then drop it by my house and I would ride on my bicycle with the mail she had brought back,’ she said.
As time progressed, so did the amenities. In 1975 40 boxes were installed in Bodden Town Post Office, and a couple of months later the mail began to be delivered by vans, which meant that customers could collect their parcels in Bodden Town.
Two years later Miss Pet started working full-time, and the old jailhouse was converted into a storage area and bathroom facilities to further enhance the Bodden Town Post Office. From that time until recently she saw many changes in the way that mail was processed.
In 2000 Miss Pet experienced yet another major change in her district. The little post office that she had spent most of her career in – which, she admits, was small, hot and too close to the road – was torn down to make way for a larger, more impressive building housing 996 postal boxes.
‘I love postal work. I have learnt a lot and made a lot of friends over the years,’ she said.
Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow told Miss Pet, ‘You in your own way are a tough act to follow. It takes a special person to dedicate their life to one job, and being a civil servant enables you further to become a part of the community,’ she said.
Minister McLean also praised Mrs. Kelly’s accomplishments and service.
‘It is laudable for someone to commit themselves for 33 years to the government and the Post Office. Thank you so much for your commitment and service,’ he said.
Mrs. Petrea Kelly is married to Lyngard Kelly and the couple has three sons, Sherdon, Kennedy and Raybourn.