82 postboxes raise money at Christmas

Crochet crafters and yarn bombers have been busy creating the much-loved postbox Christmas trail in St Albans this year.

Founded by locals Clare Suttie and Candy Stuart in 2018, the trail is one of the biggest fundraising initiatives in St Albans that has raised more than £64,000 for local charities since it started. 

This year, there will be 82 postboxes ‘topped’ with hand crocheted and knitted designs. “I’ve always loved Christmas, but since starting St Albans Postboxes in 2018, it’s become an even more special time of year,” says Clare. 

“What started as a modest fundraising event with 23 toppers has been embraced by the people and businesses of the area, and you can feel the excitement building in November.

“The great thing about St Albans Postboxes is that it brings together the whole community – businesses sponsoring, individuals donating, local charities benefitting – bringing a smile to every face. 2021 sees a record number of toppers, a bigger team of volunteers and we can’t wait to see everyone out and about finding them all.” 

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From 1 December, people can follow the trail with toppers across the district including Park Street, Harpenden, Wheathampstead and Sandridge. Each postbox has a sponsor, which includes people from all over the globe. One man, based in Chicago, has sponsored the postbox outside his mum’s house as a surprise, knowing that they’re not able to spend Christmas together this year.

In 2019, local business owner Jez Levy of Marshalswick based opticians EYES on St Albans got involved and funded the development of a digital trail, so people can enjoy and discover all the Postboxes and easily donate via an app.  

 “The trail has become something that the people of St Albans have come to love and treasure as a fantastic community activity that raises huge amounts of money and makes people smile,” he says.

Every topper has a QR code which allows people to enter the trail and donate. And once people have the app, they can scan each barcode for a chance to win prizes that have been donated by local businesses.

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This year’s charitable partners are Youth Talk, which provides free, confidential counselling to 13-25 year olds in St Albans and surrounding areas, and Hertfordshire based charity ADD-vance – that supports families affected by ADHD, autism or a related condition.

David Barker, CEO of Youth Talk is thrilled to be benefitting from this year’s postbox toppers campaign. “Covid has presented such great challenges for us all, and demand for our local counselling service has grown exponentially during the pandemic,” he says.

“Young people need us now more than ever before and we know that with our community behind us we can continue to be there for the growing numbers of young people who need our help and support. A huge thank you to everyone involved and the creative superstars who help make this delightful fundraiser possible, and of course our local businesses and community for their generous support.” 

Search for ‘EYES on St Albans’ in your app store to download the app, enjoy the trail, donate and scan to win prizes.

You can also follow #stalbanspostboxes, and visit the Facebook page. Read about the history of the toppers, the team and the sponsors and supporters at www.stalbanspostboxes.org.uk.