Tarland residents are close to securing a deal which would see the return of their local post office.
The Piper reported in January that the village post office was set to close following the resignation of the sub-postmaster, Flo Strachan, after 42 years of service.
Simon Welfare, chairman of Cromar Community Council, announced that talks about providing a new postal service for the area were making rapid progress.
He said: “The community council initiated discussions with Post Office officials in response to concern expressed by local people who relied on Tarland Post Office.
“These talks look like coming to fruition very soon, a local retailer has expressed willingness to run a Post Office Local service and is negotiating.
“Meanwhile, we expect to conclude an arrangement for an outreach service to make regular visits to Tarland in the run-up to Christmas. We’ll be keeping everyone informed.”
Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside councillor, Geva Blackett, believes using a model, which sees businesses working with volunteers to provide a local service, will be a success.
She said: “The community has been trying to find a solution since the post office closed.
“Establishing a local post office, done on a community basis, seemed to be the best solution.
“The solution may be that there are many locals in Tarland who would be happy to give a couple of hours of their time during the week when it was busy or when they were called in.”
The Post Office has agreed to train any volunteers who come forward.
Cllr Blackett added: “It really is a win-win situation. Hopefully everything will be drawn up and agreed in the next couple of weeks.
“It will probably then take up to six months to get everything up and running.”
Ms Blackett, who worked with Post Office Ltd over proposed changes to the Braemar branch, praised the company for listening to the community.
Meanwhile, Mrs Strachan was presented with a number of gifts as a thank you for all her years of work at Tarland Post Office.
“Flo thoroughly deserves her retirement,” said Simon Welfare. “We have missed her very much over the past few months and the closing of Tarland Post Office has meant that many members of the community have to suffer the inconvenience of travelling to Aboyne to transact the business that used to be carried out by Flo.
Mrs Strachan’s many friends and customers throughout the Howe of Cromar subscribed to her retirement gifts.
These included an inscribed bowl specially made by ceramicist Emma Pattullo of Platform 22 in Torphins and a-state-of-the-art television.