ONE fat lady' threw all her weight behind a campaign to save post offices in Hampshire threatened with closure.

Clarissa Dickson Wright, one half of the TV cookery pair Two Fat Ladies, was among protesters in Winchester campaigning against proposals to close 2,500 post offices nationwide.

Rural post offices are likely to be worst hit by the closures, and the Countryside Alliance, which organised the protest, claims this will cut the heart out of thousands of communities and sever lifelines to the vulnerable and elderly.

Rural activist Clarissa said: "It is such an important issue. For some people in rural areas the post office is so much a part of their lives. I do everything at my post office - it's brilliant.

"Not everyone has a car to drive to the next village."

Joining her at the protest were Winchester City Council leader, Cllr George Beckett, his Tory colleague Steve Brine, prospective Conservative candidate for Winchester, and Ray Pearce, from the Communication Workers Union.

Cllr Beckett said: "The post office is a lynchpin of rural life and this particular campaign is to save post offices in the local community."

Mr Brine added: "The Government has undermined the post office by taking away key services offered, such as payment of car tax and TV licences.

"I'm contacted by postmasters in Chandler's Ford and Winchester who say if the post office goes, so will the shop.

"We hear from ministers about the sustainability of communities, but they need to put their money where their mouths are."

Lib Dem parliamentary hopeful, Martin Tod, has launched a petition to save rural post offices.

He said: "We have launched the petition so that people in Winchester can send Tony Blair and Gordon Brown a clear message: don't sound the last post for our post offices, we want them kept open."