A young girl who came up with a ‘postbox to heaven’ so she could write to her dead grandparents has seen her idea installed in crematoriums across the UK.
Matilda Handy, 10, suggested a heartwarming way to express her grief after her grandparents passed away five years apart.
Mum Leanne, 45, approached Gedling Crematorium, in Lambley, Nottingham, where she works, and an old post box was painted white just before last Christmas.
Matilda’s moving tribute proved so popular that a year on they have now been rolled out across 40 sites in England, Scotland and Wales.
“Matilda was the first person to put a message in our first memorial post box at Gedling last December,” said Leanne from Arnold, Nottingham.
“We had no idea then that, one year later, there would be a memorial post box at every one of Westerleigh Group’s sites, bringing comfort to people all over the country, and we feel very proud.”
Matilda was nine when she first thought of her idea after her post office worker gran Pat died in 2017 before she sadly lost grandad Keith in November 2022.
More than 100 letters were posted in the first postbox, which are aimed to help ease grief and be of comfort on anniversaries and holidays.
The idea has since been adopted by many other UK sites and funeral directors and Leanne said she has also spoken to people in other countries doing the same.
“I am so thankful that our post boxes are able to help not just me and my friends and family but people all over the UK and as far away as Australia,” said Matilda.
“I have written to King Charles to see if he might want to install one at Buckingham Palace, to remember loved ones such as the late Queen, Prince Phillip and Princess Diana.”
Previously she said: “We’re doing these to be used by people when they walk past.
“It’s been hard because my grandad passed away in November 2022 so it definitely did help me.
“It’s just a very nice way to express my feelings and send a letter to them and to say how much I love them.”
“Matilda was always saying she wishes we could send Mamma and Grandad Birthday and Christmas cards for them to read in heaven,” added Leanne.
“My mum worked in a post office for 25 years in our local community, and it just seemed fitting for her.
“Matilda was so used to being around postboxes and letters and always wanted to send mama one.
“A lot of people miss sending cards at christmas time and that’s an important occasion for people in the community.
“People find real comfort in sending something, whether it’s a child drawing a picture or an older person sending something to their loved ones.
“The art of writing something helps with the process.”
Matilda’s idea saw her appear on the BBC One Show, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4.
She was also invited to a special reception at 10 Downing Street by Rishi Sunak, where she was recognized as a ‘Point of Light’.
Westerleigh Group, one of the UK’s largest independent owners and operators of crematoria and cemeteries, unveiled its first post box on December 8, 2022.
They said the positive feedback prompted them to commit to installing memorial post boxes at all its sites by the end of the year.
The group estimates that around 3,000 letters, cards and messages have been posted in its memorial post boxes over the past year.
“The legacy of Matilda’s idea is helping to bring comfort to thousands of bereaved people around the country and beyond,” said Debbie Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Westerleigh Group.
“We’ve received so much incredibly positive feedback from people who tell us they have gained therapeutic benefit and comfort through the act of posting cards, letters and messages to loved ones.
“Initially, people thought the post box at Gedling was there just for Christmas, but all our boxes are available all year round, for people to postcards for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day – whenever they wish.
“What’s more, the memorial post boxes are available for absolutely anyone to use – you do not have to have attended a service at a Westerleigh Group crematorium or have your loved one resting in our Gardens of Remembrance to use the post boxes.
“They are for absolutely anyone who feels they may draw some comfort from using them.
“The fact that other crematorium operators, funeral directors and others have adopted the idea that Leanne and Matilda came up with a year ago means that even if there is not a Westerleigh Group crematorium near you, there may well be a memorial post box, which you can use and take comfort from, which we are extremely proud of.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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