“I’d been selling it for a while as I wanted to retire, and developers wanted to turn it into a house," said Tony.
"But the community was very clear in saying, ‘We need our shop and Post Office’ - so they got together and managed to buy it.
“It’s a win-win – the community keep their Post Office, and I get to retire!
“The Post Office side of it has become increasingly important because it’s a means by which people can access banking services. All the banks in the village have closed.”
Tony thanked the community for their support over the decades.
“It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be here.
“I don’t think of my customers as customers - I just have a load of friends who come in and give me money for what they take away,” he joked.
“They’re just kind and genuine people. Yorkshire folk, you know!”
The branch transferred to community ownership at the end of March; 22 years to the day since Tony bought it back in 2000.
Mark Simmonds co-chairs the community group that bought the shop.
He said they were relieved to keep the store open, as it is the heartbeat of the village.
“The shop will run as it does now, but with a new Postmaster, Tim Nixon, in charge. There will also be opportunities for locals to volunteer on the retail side of the business.
“Tony has given us big boots to fill but we’re going to do our best to continue his legacy.
"He has been the beating heart of the community and a big inspiration.”
Post Office Area Manager Melanie Shephard thanked Tony for his 22 years as Postmaster: “Tony and his Post Office are an incredibly important part of Heptonstall and will be missed behind the counter.
"I know the community appreciates his service over the years, and I wish him all the best for his retirement.”