As Christmas Day approaches, eager children, distant relatives and extended families rely on the nation’s dedicated postmen and women to ensure those gifts arrive on time.
Tucked away on a business park in Stourton, at the edge of Leeds city centre, the Leeds Mail Centre is at the heart of festive deliveries across the North.
And on the busiest day of the year for staff, the Yorkshire Evening Post went behind the scenes at Royal Mail’s facility as more than four million parcels and letters were handled yesterday.
Royal Mail’s workforce, beavering away to ensure loved ones get their presents under the tree, has been bolstered by 900 temporary staff and 70 extra delivery vehicles in Leeds.
“We are certainly having a busy year,” said Chris Matson, plant manager at the centre.
“We spend all year planning for Christmas. You can see how hard our staff are working. We are a 24/7 operation.”
Inside the mail centre, postcodes and addresses from LS1 to WF2 are lit up on screen displays as post is sorted before being loaded onto trucks.
Mr Matson added: “Initially, we were a letters business that sorts parcels.
“But now we are a parcels business that sorts letters.
“I think the appetite for online in the UK is significant, and we have got such a big infrastructure in this country that supports online sales.”
To deal with the demand, a temporary parcel sorting centre was also made operational in November at Elland Road ahead of the delivery rush.
Postman Rob Galloway, 33, who has worked at the mail centre since he was 17-years-old, told the YEP: “I like working at Christmas time, it’s great.
“The building is full of energy, it’s busy but we are doing everything we can to get the mail out.
“We have to remember that our Christmas presents and cards - and our families’ - are in there too.”
Mr Galloway, who is in The Yalla Yallas band which played Glastonbury Festival this year, said that despite the recent decline in letters, Christmas cards are still being posted in force.