THE owners of the little island of Sanda have won a 10-year battle to have their postal service restored.

To celebrate their ''David and Goliath'' victory against Royal Mail, Meg Gannon and her husband Dick are to restore an old tradition by printing their own stamps.

Stamps were produced by the Russell family on Sanda, which sits at the convergence of the Irish Sea and the Firth of Clyde, in the 1960s with the help of Malcolm Kelly, a printer in Girvan.

The final stamps - featuring the Apollo moon landing in 1969 - were printed in 1970 for Jack Bruce of Cream, the pop group, who owned the island. They are now collectors' items and are traded on the internet.

Earlier this year, the Gannons opened the Byron Darnton, one of the most remote and inaccessible pubs in Scotland, after overcoming a series of setbacks - including a lightning strike, a lost boat and mooring, and foot-and-mouth.

However, restoring the post proved to be a 10-year-battle.

Mr Gannon said: '' We have been given the runaround, given incorrect information, and generally sent up blind alleys.

''The charter under which the Post Office operates states that it will deliver the mail to Great Britain and its islands. Many islands have thus still enjoyed a postal service which often involves the island boat or a local boat being paid to deliver the mail, albeit once a week in outlying places.

''But could we get this right reinstated? - not on your life, despite Sanda being my official residence since 1990, and the fact I had a postal vote.''

He added: ''Postwatch Scotland, the consumer watchdog, took up the case after telling us that an application had been made by the PO to remove us from the register as the island was uninhabited, unused and that the Gannons only kept it as a holiday home.''

Tricia Dow, director of Postwatch Scotland, said it had fed information to Postcomm, the regulator, which decided that Sanda should be provided with a weekly postal service because it does not have ferry or air links.

''It's a massive breakthrough for the Gannons,'' she said.

Mr Gannon added: ''With the high-profile pub now open, we feel the legalities suddenly became a reality - in this sue-mania world, we could have sued for loss of business. We already lost a six-month let on an island cottage because the woman was an examiner and could only receive her post from the post office or their agent.''

He said they had just had their first delivery - from the boat of a local fisherman. Mr Gannon said they hoped to re-introduce Sanda stamps for the reopening of the Byron Darnton in spring next year.

''We will probably produce a set to commemorate the pub, lighthouse, birds, chapel and Scotland's fourth bird observatory on the island.''

The Gannons opened the Byron Darnton last April on the island which lies 25 miles west of Girvan and two miles off the south tip of the Mull of Kintyre.

Mrs Gannon, the licensee, said: ''It really has amazed us how busy the pub has become, not as we thought with the serious drinkers from Ireland, but from local Scottish trade and yachties in large numbers.

''Next year, we will be very busy with five weddings already planned on the island, several stag and hen nights and a major cruise liner, the Hebridean Princess, has just written to confirm it will be calling regularly next summer. With several yacht clubs planning to hold musters at Sanda, we really will be blitzed.''

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: ''We have a legal obligation to deliver mail to 2.5 million addresses in Scotland, six days a week under the terms of our postal licence. We are the only company with a legal obligation to deliver to all delivery points throughout the UK, as well as collect from all collection points.

''There are some cases, however, when Royal Mail cannot deliver. The large proportion of exceptions in Scotland are due to geography.''

A little history

The Gannons have owned Sanda, which extends to 314 acres and is only about half a mile in diameter, for 14 years

Jack Bruce composed songs during his stay and a TV show was made of his life there

The island was sold in 1976 to James Gulliver, of the Argyll store group, whose family comes from Campbeltown

In 1979, it was acquired by a Middle Eastern owner before passing to the Gannons

The pub is named after the 7000-ton American Liberty ship that went ashore 150 yds from the lighthouse in 1946