Knowing this was a box that Phil Jeffery empties while on his daily rounds, Joan Stanley decided to mark his retirement by crocheting a mini Phil, complete with post bag, post box and red van.
And, just to make sure he got the message, stitched on the back of the Royal Mail replica shirt is: Happy Retirement Postman Phil.
“To be honest, it brought a lump to my throat that someone had done such an amazing thing.”
Since it appeared on Little Morton Road in North Wingfield it has drawn big smiles from passers-by.
“I knew it was Joan because I had delivered letters and parcels to her door and seen her put other toppers on the box to mark Christmas, Easter and other events,” said Phil, who has been on this round for more than five years. “But most people are totally mystified as to who’s behind them.”
The friendship between the pair started during lockdown when Joan, who could always knit but had never crocheted, set herself the challenge to learn the craft as well as walk four miles a day - about half of Phil’s daily round.
“That’s when I’d bump into Phil and we’d give each other a wave, then a ‘hello’ then, after a few months, a bit of a chat,” said Joan. “He was a cheery sight during anxious times, and I know a lot of people in the village valued the bit of normality he brought.”
It is not the first time Joan has surprised the community, having started her crochet venture by making small ‘random acts of kindness’ - little gifts’ bearing a message - which she would leave around North Wingfield for people to find.
“Phil is a one off,” said Joan, “so I thought I’d do something to wave him off in style as a way of thanks not just from me but from the hundreds of others whose lives he has touched these last few years”.
And while Phil is really looking forward to retiring, he admits he will miss the people who make the job so much more than just delivering letters and parcels. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a postman and how a simple ‘hello, how are you today?’ can make such a difference.”