Westerleigh Group has 40 crematoria throughout England, Scotland and Wales, each of which now has a memorial post box, thanks to a young girl’s wish to feel a connection to her late grandparents.
The ‘Letters to Heaven’ or ‘Letters to Loved Ones’ post boxes enable the bereaved to write and ‘send’ messages, cards and letters to loved ones they have lost.
Westerleigh Group installed its first memorial post box at Gedling Crematorium, in Nottinghamshire, in December 2022.
It attracted a lot of interest and, more importantly, a lot of positive feedback from people who said they drew considerable comfort from feeling a connection to their loved ones – so much so that Westerleigh Group decided to install one at every one of its crematorium grounds.
Gedling Crematorium’s memorial advisor Leanne Handy, whose father passed away in 2003 and mother passed away in 2017, arranged for the memorial post box to be installed after her daughter, Matilda, then aged nine, spoke about her grandparents and her wish to send them cards on important dates.
The idea touched the hearts of many people, and saw Matilda become something of a celebrity over the year, appearing on TV’s “The One Show”, “Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway”, “Steph’s Packed Lunch” and making numerous other radio and TV appearances, as well as being invited to 10 Downing Street and Palace of Westminster.
Westerleigh Group estimates that around 3,000 letters, cards and messages have been posted in its memorial boxes in the year since that first one was installed in Gedling and similar memorial boxes have been introduced by other crematorium operators and funeral directors, and even a cat and dogs home.
Leanne has also spoken to people in many other countries, who had heard about the post boxes and wanted to look at installing their own.
She said: “Matilda and I are very proud of the memorial post boxes, which we know have already brought comfort to so many people.
“The best thing about them is that they are there to be used by absolutely anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never attended a service or ever visited any Westerleigh Group site before, you are still welcome to use it.
“Perhaps you find yourself travelling across the country to visit relatives over the Christmas holidays; perhaps your work has forced you to move home, miles from where your loved one is laid to rest or has a memorial.
“With 40 crematoria all over England, Scotland and Wales, there’s a good chance that, wherever you are, there will be a Westerleigh Group site near you, with a memorial post box that you are very welcome to use.
“Perhaps it will be during a holiday, perhaps you will be travelling to mark an anniversary or other memorable milestone, or perhaps you just wish to say a little something or send a little note to your loved one, post a Birthday card, or a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day card, there should be a memorial post box within fairly easy reach of wherever you are.”
To find the nearest Westerleigh Group memorial post box to you, please click here.