Wind the clock back to July 1994, Russell was nine years old and we were on holiday in Devon. We had rented a cottage on a farm in a pretty south Devon village for a week, and luckily there were other families with children staying there as well. We got chatting to a family with children of a similar age to Russell and Sarajane, and at the end of the week Russell swapped addresses with their son. We went home and forgot all about it.
A couple of months later, Russell received a chain letter; you know the ones, you write it out again and send it to four friends, add your name and address to the list and send a postcard of where you live to the name at the to of the list. And then sit back and wait for hundreds of postcards to arrive! It had been sent from the friend he had met on holiday, so he sent the letter to four friends, added his name and sent a postcard of Great Missenden to the person at the top of the list. And forgot all about it. At the beginning of December we received two postcards (not the 250+ as advertised in the letter), one of them caught my eye as it included the name and address of the sender; it was from a family with a surname identical to Russell’s great grandmother (which was a very unusual name). Many years before, Russell’s Granny had lost touch with most of her family, and on the death of her mother in 1977 we resigned ourselves to the fact that we might never see them again. So after a couple of weeks deliberating I sent a letter to this family, asking them if they could be out long lost relations. The phone rang on Boxing Day, and I found myself talking to Debra, who had sent the postcard for her son who was only two at the time. They were indeed our relatives; Russell’s Granny was thrilled as in the past she had been very close to Roger, Debra’s father-in-law. We won’t lose touch again!
Fast-forward to May 2nd 2014 and Russell’s postcard tribute. John left his first postcard in the village pub where we had lunch. Later the same day it was found by Annelise, a primary school teacher who lives in the village. Annelise said she was going to Tenby the following day and would leave the card there, and sent a picture of her with the card outside a hotel in Tenby. We have kept in touch with Annelise via Facebook, and she also took part in the “Have a drink for Russell” Day in June.
It was when I was writing the blog about living in a Welsh village that I stumbled upon the Creigiau History Facebook page; there were loads of old photos of the village from long before we ever knew it existed and many reminiscences from residents past and present. A real goldmine for anyone who loves to know a bit about the history of his or her village. So I signed up to join and then posted a picture from 1989 of Russell and Sarajane on one of the carnival floats. Not long after, a message came through from someone called Liz. We knew her as Lizzie, the little girl who lived next door in Creigiau, she had remembered us from the photo and has since sent some pictures of her with Russell and told us a bit about herself. She is now married and living in Cardiff with her husband and daughter and works as a nurse for people with learning disabilities. Her parents, Anne and Tom still live in the village and are now retired, we have since got back in touch with them and plan to visit next time we are in south Wales.
We were also contacted by someone else via our post on Creigiau History – Russell’s playgroup leader, Diana, who also happens to be Annelise’s mother-in-law! Again, we are going to keep in touch.
So, if we ever find a postcard like the ones we wrote for Russell, or another chain letter, we will definitely reply and pass it on, you never know where it may lead. Hooray for Postcard Power!!
listen to our 1994 playlist – bring back some memories!