Apprentice on a UK-wide mission

Apprentice on a UK-wide mission

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we're speaking to apprentices across the business and in the network to find out about some of the things they are involved in. 

Here we meet Joanna Giles, apprentice at Ashburton Post Office in Devon. 

Joanna is the first apprentice to work behind the counter. Employed by Stuart Rogers, postmaster at Ashburton. Some of her many highlights include spending two days in London last year, when she met Paula, our CEO, and as well as meeting British politician Anna Soubry to talk about her experience working in branch and her passion for Ashburton local community. 

Through the apprenticeship Joanna has also gained a qualification in Business Management and played an incremental role in saving her town's library and fundraising for her local community. Her work has been greatly recognised by the likes of BBC Spotlight and radio Devon where she has taken part in multiple interviews. 

We spoke to Joanna who is approaching her two-year anniversary with Ashburton branch and she had some exciting news to share. 

Marking the milestone with a unique challenge

Joanna said: “In honour of my two-year anniversary with the Post Office in April 2018, I have been set a very exciting fundraising challenge, called ‘Challenge JOPO’. On Wednesday 18 April, I will set off on a journey to travel to the most southern, western, northern and eastern Post Offices in the UK, finishing at the Houses of Parliament on Thursday 26 April. 

“But this is no ordinary challenge. I have challenged myself to not pay for any travel during this mission. I will be doing the challenge with my partner, Harry Thuel, who will be documenting my whole journey through photographs and a video diary which will be shared on social media platforms. 

Local inspiration

“The organisations I will be raising money for are Cancer Research UK and a local not-for-profit organisation Ashburton Arts, all with the aim to raise £5,000 which will be divided between the chosen causes.'' 

''I have been involved in fundraising for Cancer Research for many years alongside my family. We have been involved in the successful big breakfast events in our community and other events such as the race for life and coffee mornings. Cancer Research is something I feel very passionate about and I want to do something inspirational to boost my fundraising efforts. 

“My second organisation is Ashburton Arts. Its mission is to fill the South Dartmoor town with music, theatre, comedy, dance and arts of all kinds by bringing the old grade II listed Methodist church to life, getting as many people as possible involved along the way, from all areas of the local community. They have raised just enough money (£180k) from our community in donations (20%) and long-term, interest-free loans (80%) to buy the building at the public auction in July 2017, and to pay for the first year’s insurance and other immediate essentials. 

“Now, while structurally sound, it needs around £10–15k spent just to meet the basic safety and building regulations to be used as a place of education, association and entertainment.  They hope to be able to raise this in the next few months and to do the work needed both on the building and in the programme preparation to be able to open properly from May 2018. 

“Both Cancer research UK and Ashburton Arts are both very deserving of the money and are something I am extremely passionate about contributing towards.'' 

What’s next?

‘’I have no plans to leave the Post Office which lies in the heart of the community which is dear to me. I have been accepted onto the Post Office Travel Accelerator Programme which I am very much looking forward to!’’ 

Good luck to Joanna!

Joanna is using the tagline 'Donate £1 to get me around' and hopes each person can donate as little as £1 it would be a huge help to both causes.

To support Joanna on her mission around the UK, and to support very worthy causes, you can donate through her just giving page here, or send an email to