A GRASSCROFT man was left stunned when postcards from the other side of the world arrived at his house – 30 years after they were posted.
But as Kevin Thewlis found out, that was just the start of the story.
The 39-year-old builder was bemused when the cards from the Galapagos Islands dropped through his letter box on Beechfield addressed to Peter and Varna Chadwick.
Not knowing who they were or where they were, he started a mission to find them and reunite them with the cards, which were posted way back in 1989.
Luckily a neighbour knew them and gave him an address in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham – and the story and search was featured on TV.
So after a 104-mile journey, Mr Chadwick set sight on what he put in the islands’ ‘barrel post’, where mail is left in a barrel and taken on by anyone travelling from the Pacific territory, once again.
Then again, they had travelled more than 6,000 miles over 353 months to even reach Grasscroft!
Mr Thewlis said: “The reaction has been massive. Everyone in the local area is talking about it and when I go in the local pub, people are looking at me and pointing as if to say, ‘That’s him.’
“Since it was featured on TV, I’ve had friends and even people I’d not spoken to for years message me and drop me texts about the story.
“When they first dropped through the letterbox, I initially thought it may have been a bit of a joke, especially as it said they were posted 30 years ago.
“But I got in touch with my neighbour, Maggie Dredge, who is still friends with the couple who posted them in the Galapagos Islands and sends them Christmas cards.
“She has an e-mail address for them, so I got in touch that way and one thing led to another. I’ve been astounded by the reaction.”
Mr Chadwick said he was “absolutely thrilled” and “ever so grateful” to be reunited with the cards, which were sent as part of their tradition of posting cards to themselves from their holidays.
Dating back to the 19th Century, barrel post was used by whalers and relied on post being picked out of beachside barrels and taken on the next step by islanders heading in the right direction.
The cards arrived in Oldham bearing the ‘South Lakes’ stamp applied to mail posted in parts of Cumbria.
Mr Chadwick said he believed the postcards may have been brought back to England years ago before they were discovered and sent forward.
“Someone must have stuck them in a file intending to post them and then come across them 30 years later,” he said.
The whole journey left Mr Thewlis amazed – and the story may not end there.
He added: “I did a lot more reading up on how the postal system works there and the islands but also how the cards ended up in the Lake District with stamps from this year on.
“I couldn’t understand at first how they got there and also how it took so long for them to get there
“Whoever picked them up from the Galapagos Islands must’ve lived in the Lakes and they were sat there for anything from a month to 30 years.
“They were definitely posted this year as the stamps on them were not available until 2019.
“Now the job is to find out who posted them but it would be impossible for me to find out who put a stamp on, went to the post box and put them in the post!”