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The Last Post: Mail box gets new lease of life at Gedling Crematorium

Families and friends will be able to write messages, cards and letters to their loved ones in Heaven, which they can then ‘post’ in the box

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A former post box is being given a new lease of life at Gedling Crematorium by providing comfort to grieving families.

Families and friends will be able to write messages, cards and letters to their loved ones in Heaven, which they can then ‘post’ in the box.

It will be officially unveiled at the crematorium’s annual Christmas Service of Remembrance, which will take place on Thursday, December 8.

The Letters to Heaven post box initiative was the brainchild of Gedling Crematorium’s Memorial Advisor, Leanne Handy, whose father passed away in 2003 and mother passed away in 2017.

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PICTURED: Leanne Handy with the mail box at Gedling Crematorium
Gedling_Crematorium
PICTURED: Gedling Crematorium

She said: “My daughter, Matilda, was always saying she wished we could send Mamma and Grandad Birthday and Christmas cards for them to read. She was four when my mum died, and never met my dad.

“I then saw an article in a newspaper about a postman who found a letter in a Leicester post box written by an eight-year-old to her father in Heaven. The postman managed to track down the family and returned the letter to them, so that they could keep it.

“It has resonated with him because his own father had passed away the previous year.

“Previously, we also held a Christmas Service at Gedling Crematorium in which a young child made a card for his father which was placed on our Christmas Tree of Remembrance.

Inspired by all this, Leanne arranged for the memorial post box to be installed at the crematorium.

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Leanne said: “I am hoping that people who come to Gedling Crematorium will think this is a lovely idea. I have spoken to a number of families who have said they will use it, and not just for children.

“I hope this will be another way of people feeling connected to their loved ones, which will give them some comfort, in much the same way as some people listen to voice messages, favourite songs, and look at photographs.

“It is for them to write their own thoughts and feelings, knowing that no one else will read or see what they’ve written. But the writing process itself can be very therapeutic and comforting.”

The post box has been sandblasted and painted white free of charge by local business Premier Powder Coating, from Sutton-in-Ashfield and after its unveiling on 8 December it will be placed outside, near the crematorium’s Covid-19 memorial.

This means people will be able to use it even at times when the crematorium office is closed.

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It is also planned to place a bench close to the post box too.

Leanne added: “I’m very grateful to Westerleigh Group and everyone else who has supported this project, which I hope will provide a source of comfort for local families for many years to come.

“Matilda is also very excited about it. She is going to be reading a poem at our Christmas Service, and is going to be the first person to post a card into the post box.”

Gedling Crematorium is part of Westerleigh Group, the UK’s largest owner and operator of crematoria and cemeteries, with 37 sites in England, Scotland, and Wales, all set within beautifully landscaped gardens of remembrance which provide pleasant, tranquil places for people to visit and reflect.

The Christmas Service of Remembrance on 8 December starts at 6pm, with the local Salvation Army Band playing beforehand. It will include a mixture of readings and popular Christmas Carols. Light refreshments will also be available.

As well as being able to post their ‘Letters to Heaven’ in honour of their loved ones, people will also be able to have photos of their loved ones shown as part of a slideshow during the service. Anyone who wants to submit a photo for this should email it to gedling@westerleighgroup.co.uk by 30 November, using the heading “Christmas Service Photo Slideshow”.

Anyone who, for whatever reason, is not able to attend in person will not miss out, as the service will be made available online through Obitus, the crematorium’s webcast provider.

They should visit https://events.obitus.com, enter the username ‘gedling’ and the password ‘snow’. The ceremony will be available to view online as a ‘watch again’ option from Monday 12 December for 28 days.

For more information, visit www.gedlingcrematorium.co.uk

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