A girl whose wish to connect with her late grandparents led to the installation of memorial post boxes at crematoria throughout the UK has received a British Citizen Youth Award Medal of Honour.
Matilda Handy was presented with the medal at a special ceremony at The Palace of Westminster.
Matilda, aged 10, from Nottingham, wanted to send birthday and Christmas cards to her late grandmother, who passed away in 2017.
Matilda’s mother, Leanne, is a Memorial Advisor at Gedling Crematorium, which is part of Westerleigh Group, one of the UK’s largest owners-operators of cemeteries and crematoria, with 39 sites in England, Scotland, and Wales.
As a result of Matilda’s idea, a Letters To Heaven memorial post box was installed at Gedling last December, and within a few weeks, more than 100 letters and cards had been posted.
The idea received such positive feedback that Westerleigh Group decided to install a memorial post box at each of its sites all over the country.
Other crematorium groups, funeral directors and even a cats and dogs home were so inspired by the idea that they have installed similar memorial post boxes, and Westerleigh Group had enquiries from other providers all over Europe and as far away as the USA and Australia.
The idea saw Matilda be invited to take part in numerous television and radio interviews, including the BBC One Show, and she also appeared on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.
She was also invited to a special reception at 10 Downing Street by Rishi Sunak, where she was recognised as a Points of Light; the Prime Minister’s Points of Light award is a daily programme recognising outstanding volunteers, charity leaders and community heroes for the service they give to others.
The British Citizen Youth Award, now in its eighth year, recognises young people, aged under 18, from across the UK who have made a positive difference to their communities and to society.
A total of 24 young people were honoured at the presentation Matilda attended, which was hosted by singer and actress Kimberley Wyatt.
Matilda was presented with her BCyA Medal of Honour by Nicky Cox MBE, Editor-in-Chief of First News.
Matilda said: “I am very thankful to be honoured with this award and would like to thank all my friends, family and everyone at Westerleigh Group for their support in helping me through this. “
Debbie Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Westerleigh Group, said: “We are delighted for yet another recognition for Matilda’s contribution to bereaved families.
“The legacy of her idea is now helping to bring comfort to thousands of bereaved people around the country and abroad.
“We’ve received lots of incredibly positive feedback from people who tell us they have gained therapeutic benefit and comfort through the act of posting cards, letters and messages to loved ones they have lost.
“We are very proud of Matilda and her achievement, she is a very deserving medallist and a true example of an honourable and engaged young citizen who has made a positive difference to the lives of so many people.”
To find out more about Westerleigh Group’s memorial post boxes, visit: www.westerleighgroup.co.uk/letters-to-heaven