Home & Country: The joys of letter writing

THERE’S nothing like a letter. The Son did a letter writing project at school and after the obligatory notes to the Queen and Prime Minister kept it up at home; writing to the Injured Jockeys Fund.

By some stroke of luck his letter reached Jack Berry, the charity’s vice-president and the man behind its plans to build a new rehabilitation centre in North Yorkshire.

Since then, they’ve kept corresponding and the lad who used to get into terrible trouble about his messy writing and shocking spelling will, touch wood, remain a letter writer.

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Through some fundraising they did - a very amateur showjumping competition - a kind invitation has now come for the local pony club to have a sneak preview of the state-of-the-art rehab centre.

“Why don’t you phone up and ask what time would be best?” his mother asked. “Oh no, it needs a letter …”

How humbling. In our age of e-mails and text messages, there is still nothing to beat a proper old-fashioned letter.

The Son’s correspondence got me thinking about a late great aunt who peppered my childhood with lovely letters. Postcards from holidays, birthdays or just a quick note for no particular reason.

They are all still in a bundle in the cupboard under the stairs. It would be sacrilege to throw them out.

We have a little metal bin at the gate for the post; it saves the postman - or should that be “person” these days? - having to tackle The Lurcher. It’s noticeable how, apart from junk mail, there are so few letters nowadays.

Deliveries seem to have got later and there is a very real possibility that rural areas will be hardest hit if, as threatened, Royal Mail ends its obligation to deliver and collect post six days a week.

The newly-privatised postal company has made its warning after announcing a slump in profits and a 30 per cent fall in the share price.

There have already been quite a few stories in the news about the company jibbing at making deliveries to rural farms and out-of-the-way cottages.

The president of the Country Land and Business Association, Henry Robinson, seems to be making the loudest noise about the threat.

“The daily post is, and must remain, an intrinsic part of rural life,” he said. “Without it, rural services - which are already under significant strain - will be seriously undermined.

“Any suggestion Royal Mail is seeking to amend, or possibly abolish the universal service obligation (USO) in the future, is a serious threat to everyone living and working in the countryside.”

We should all start writing letters. The Yorkshire Post is famous and award-winning for its serious campaigning. In a small way Country Week readers could all brighten somebody’s day with a letter. We’d be keeping those skills going - The Daughter (at nearly 14) shamed me the other day by needing reminding how to set out a formal letter - and spreading a bit of joy at the same time.

The Son? Thanks to his inspiring new friend the boy-from-the-back-of-the-class has his own stationary stash in the kitchen table.

For further information about Jack Berry House or to make a donation visit www.injuredjockeys.co.uk or call 01638 662246.