Suzanne Sercombe: Alan Bates’ Wife is a Special Education Teacher Today

In PBS’ biographical drama series ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office,’ the viewers find themselves in the middle of a decades-long pursuit of justice against the Post Office scandal. At the heart of the fight was Alan Bates, a leading figure who placed himself on the front line for justice for hundreds of subpostmasters. However, right beside him was his loving and supportive wife — Suzanne Sercombe. Although she did not receive as much attention and praise as her husband, she played a vital role in the success of the movement as well.

Suzanne Sercombe Served as a Pillar of Support and Strength For Alan Bates

Originally from London, England, Suzanne Sercombe was raised in a mansion surrounded by trees and ample outdoor space. Being a person who loves nature, she enjoyed the calmness of the sea and the smell of newly cut grass. For education, she went to Bognor Regis Comprehensive High School before enrolling in Wall Hall Teacher Training College. She also has a brother named Geoffrey Patterson, about whom the family did not inform her for decades. The cat lover used to work in North Wales before her life turned upside down, along with Alan Bates, her husband, and hundreds of others.

Image Credit: Julie Hesmondhalgh/Instagram

Having lived a long life together, the married couple decided to do something as part of their retirement plan. So they made a thought-out decision to invest in a Post Office in Llandudno, Wales, using their life savings of £65,000. However, they lost the entire sum due to the Horizon scandal. There had been signs of some discrepancies in the Horizon system in late 2000 when Alan noticed £6,000 was missing. But when he informed the same to the Post Office, his contract was terminated in 2003 based on the £1,200 that was unaccounted for. When Alan and Suzanne learned that several other subpostmasters had faced similar situations and worse, they decided to raise their voices against the Post Office.

Over the next 15 years or so, Alan and Suzanne led the cause against the Post Office, representing hundreds of others who were affected by the same. During all those years, Suzanne stood beside Alan and provided her much-needed support. Julie Hesmondhalgh, who portrays Suzanne Sercombe in the biographical show, talked about the real-life Suzanne, whom she had gotten to know throughout the filming of the show. She told The Sun, “She wouldn’t thank me for saying this, but I think there is such a deep and abiding love and respect between those two people, one that is quite rare and precious.”

As per reports, Suzanne, having a strong personality, sacrificed quite a lot for the cause and “put her own life on hold.” “She’s an incredibly creative person; she has a lot to say about things. She has a very interesting life herself. And I feel like Alan has been so much the face of this campaign and the leader of it, that she has retreated into the shadows a little bit. Again, not her choice, that’s just happened. But she’s done that willingly because she absolutely loves and respects him and because she shares a sense of justice and right and wrong,” elaborated Julie.

In the show, it was shown that Suzanne had been diagnosed with some form of cancer in her reproductive system, but it is not confirmed if the same had occurred in real life or not. Finally, Alan and Suzanne’s efforts bore some fruit as in 2019, when the former and his team sued the Post Office, it resulted in a £58 million compensation payout for all the 555 claimants. Moreover, reports also suggested that more than 30 former workers had their baseless criminal convictions overturned by the court on April 23, 2021.

Where is Suzanne Sercombe Now?

A few years after the biographical show aired, Suzanne Sercombe made an appearance in the spin-off documentary ‘Mr Bates vs The Post Office: The Real Story.” Around the same time, on January 8, 2024, she and her husband, Alan Bates, also appeared on ‘This Morning’ and talked about some interesting details about their lives. Suzanne explained that the couple faced some challenging days over the past two decades due to their venture for justice against the Horizon scandal.

Reportedly, Alan Bates was awarded an OBE, which he respectfully declined, saying, “It felt a bit of a slap in the face whilst Paula Vennells had her CBE for services to Post Office. I couldn’t justify taking that, it would have been a slap in the face to the victims in all of this.” His wife, Suzanne, also supported his decision as she claimed that it would not have made any impact on their lives. However, the lovely couple were offered a holiday trip by Richard Branson. It included upper-class return flights to Necker Island from Virgin Airlines and a 7-night Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona in the Sea Terrace Cabin from Virgin Voyages.

Feeling grateful and emotional by this kind gesture, Suzanne and Alan’s eyes were filled with tears of happiness. Currently living in the village of Old Colwyn in Conwy County Borough, Wales, with Alan, Suzanne seemingly works as a Special Education Teacher at Bay Gallery. On her social media account, she regularly posts important news articles, especially about the Post Office scandal, trying to raise more awareness about the critical social issues in the world.

Read More: Emily Maitlis: Where is the BBC Journalist Now?