When we left those 29 postcards back in May, we weren’t really sure what to expect. We hoped that some would be found and the finders would contact us, and that is exactly what happened. But the stories our finders shared with us were a real insight into the lives of some lovely people who really do care.
The first two cards to be found were both left by John in the village where we used to live in Wales. One was found by Annelise, in the village pub; Annelise took it to Tenby the following day but that was the last we heard of it.
The second was found in the village shop by Rachel, one of the staff – again no further news. The next reply came via Twitter and was from Julia, a student in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, USA; this was one of the four cards left by the Seabaugh family in Missouri.
We then received an email from someone with a story of her own. Shelagh found Luke and Karen’s card, which they had left in Spade Oak Meadow (and had thoughtfully laminated to avoid it disintegrating in the rain). This is Shelagh’s story:
I came across one of your postcards at Spade Oak Meadow, by the Thames at Bourne End
– henceforth to be known as Russell’s water each time I pass. It is a beautiful day. The water is still and calm, 2 sailors are learning their ropes, a loudspeaker is chivvying up his rowers, swans are nesting (but no sign of George the goose or the kingfishers who nest a little further down). Walkers are walking their dogs, and runners are putting themselves through their paces – and me? Well, I’m cycling, trying to keep my aged body fit and out of the wheelchair promised me 20 years ago. Each day out of it is a blessing – 20 years down and with luck, 20 to go! Thanks to you and your thoughts, you have reminded me that even when I can’t move very well, there will be a day just like this to enjoy – it is a blessing to be alive – now – at this time – whatever is happening.
Russell must have been a wonderful man to have such a lovely family and friends. You have to be a good friend to have good friends and Russell must have been a good friend.
I hope that you will learn to carry your grief with dignity, as I have mine it is a heavy burden – but on days like this, one day you will feel, as I do now – glad to be alive (and thanks to you for reminding me of that).
A few days later the same card was found again, this time by a couple of students who, arguably, should have been revising rather than walking by the Thames! But we are glad that they did take time off from their revision to reply to us. We hope they both did well in their exams.
Hello, we were walking today along the Thames between Bourne End and Marlow and found one of your postcards left by Luke Walker and Karen G. Firstly, we were extremely touched by this as a gesture and its a lovely thing to do to remember Russell. I’m Charlie and this is my girlfriend Martha and we’re both 16. I’m a Wycombe lad and Martha is from the area as well, we’re currently a week prior to starting our GCSEs, which is stressful to say the least. I play rugby for High Wycombe RUFC and go to John Hampden just down the road from where I live with my mum in Wooburn Green. Martha goes to The Wye Valley School and lives in Flackwell Heath with her little sister and her dad. She sings and plays a few instruments and we both enjoy performing together and listening to our indie music collection.
Once again we think this is a lovely idea and we hope this is one of many replies. Love from Martha and Charlie xxx
Then there was the first of two replies from Tim’s card:
My friend (Ged) and I went for a run early (7am) Saturday morning 3rd May. It was a beautiful, sunny morning a little bit chilly around the parts that the Lycra doesn’t cover but other than that a perfect morning for a run.
We ran to Coombe Hill monument….Ged beat me to the top, he usually does as he is exceptionally fleet of foot for a Yorkshire man with short fat hairy legs! A couple of minutes (or so) after Ged had reached the summit I eventually managed to drag my fat hairy-arse up there too and it was then that I noticed Ged had found what turned out to be a Russell Postcard! He was reading the postcard intently as I gasped for all Oxygen available to me at the heady heights of Coombe Hill (260m above sea level with the most fantastic views across the Vale of Aylesbury. If you haven’t been, do go, other than the view of the Vale there are often Red Kites soaring above your head and an interesting view of the Prime Ministers country residence, Chequers!).
Ged passed the postcard to me…”read that..” he said.
Very fitting to have placed the postcard on a memorial to Buckinghamshire men, I am sure the men of the Boer War would not mind one bit that one of Russell’s friends or family used this monument to position a card that remembers him.
I believe that the majority of human beings have compassion and certainly that is what Ged and I felt when we read Russell’s story on that postcard placed on the monument on Coombe Hill. We were so sorry to hear of your loss, touched by the thought of Russell postcards placed around world on his birthday as a remembrance to him and delighted that we can be part of your story.
Attached is a photograph of the two of us taken at 07:42 hrs, 3rd May, Coombe Hill Monument, me (Fraser) on the right as you look at the photo and Ged to the left.
Ged and Fraser left the card on the monument and it was found again the following day:
My name is Sarah and we found your postcard on Coombe Hill in Aylesbury, Bucks
on 3rd May 2014. We, Myself, my son Ben age 6 and my daughter Tabitha age 2, had gone to climb Coombe Hill to have a picnic and do some geocaching on the way up. Ben found your postcard on the monument at the top and asked what it was about. I explained it to him and he thought it was very sad but also a very good thing to do and he asked if we could take part so here we are. I have attached 2 photos taken on the top of the hill that day just after finding it. We will send it on its travels again today. Love Sarah, Ben and Tabitha.
Two postcards were found in Norwich:
This postcard was left at the Norwich tourist Information centre where I work, on Friday 9 May. I’d read about the book ’60 postcards’ so understand what it’s all about. I think it’s a great idea and a lovely way to remember someone and hope it helps you all. I’ve worked here for many years and love welcoming visitors to Norwich; it’s a great city, with loads going on all the time and a brilliant place to live. My family all live in the area and I have 2 lovely granddaughters aged 2 & 3, they are such fun and wonderful to be with. Families are very special and should never be taken for granted. We are lucky to be having a holiday with all the family later this year; there will be 20 of us spanning 4 generations including my mum who is 84.It’s lovely to be a small part of your collection of memories and I hope you get lots of replies. I shall leave the card somewhere else and hope that you will continue to get messages. Best wishes, Jane
Hello, My name is Nick Mellish and I found a copy of your postcard (from ‘Cousin of Russell’) in a copy of the book Insurgent by Veronica Roth, which I am borrowing from the Millennium Library in Norwich.
I’m 28-years-old and live in Norwich, where I work at a local Sure Start Children’s Centre with children aged from Birth to Five-Years-Old. When not doing that, I write a lot, and have had some success as a published author.
Good luck with the postcards: such a lovely idea! I’m down south right now, so will hide it somewhere in Brighton….
Please feel free to share this on Facebook, too, and find me on there.
All the best, Nick
Nick writes a blog, it’s well worth a visit – http://tinternetmellish.blogspot.co.uk
The final reply that included a story is from Phil who found Geoff’s card in a pub in Soho:
….I found the card in the Blue Posts pub in Soho. https://www.facebook.com/BluePostsSoho
A fine boozer by anyone’s standards and if it was a favourite of Russell’s I’m sure he was a good man. I picked it up as it had a picture of the Thames Path on it and I’ve spent the last two summers walking it with friends. Certainly brought back happy memories of long days of walking in the sun, and drinking of an evening. It’s a lovely part of the world.
About me? I’m 33 and live and work in London. I’m a bit of a do gooder having spent my career so far in the charity sector, currently working for London Youth. I hope your celebrated his Birthday in style. I’m sure he’d be pleased to know you’ve remembered him so well. All the best, and I hope your heard some nice stories. Phil
We were touched that so many people took the time to reply and include their own stories; we are still in contact with some of them via Facebook and Twitter.