Column One: Family pleads for end to get-well card deluge

When seven-year-old Craig Shergold was in hospital with a brain tumour he set out to collect a world record number of get-well cards. Eleven years later, the record is broken and he is cured but the cards still arrive by the sackload. Now the family is appealing for them to stop.

Such is the deluge of good wishes that Craig Shergold's family home has been designated a postal district in its own right with its own postcode. It is the only way the Post Office can cope with the 500 letters that still arrive each day for him.

At the last count he had received 140 million cards from 170 countries around the world. He achieved his dream of a place in the Guinness Book of Records and the greetings card industry was so grateful for the business that it bought him a full-size pool table as a Christmas present.

Now the family and the Post Office are begging for it to stop. Craig has become the victim of a series of chain letters that have inundated the family with company business cards and compliment slips. Some used his real name while others were addressed to Craig John, Craig Shepherd, John Gary and Gary Richards but all gave the correct address in Carshalton, Surrey.

Even if the family's appeal is successful in stemming the flow from the United Kingdom, it is unlikely to curb it entirely. In the past three months thousands of postcards have arrived from Poland. Earlier this year, thousands were arriving from China, their senders unaware that the seven- year-old cancer victim is now a robust, healthy 18-year-old who wishes to be left in peace.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Mail said: "This is an unfortunate hoax. It started as a genuine appeal but got out of hand. The family and the Royal Mail want it to stop but we have a duty to deliver items as addressed."

The idea for the record bid was suggested to Craig (above) by a nurse at the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital in London where he was being treated. He later underwent brain surgery in the United States. As news of his plight spread, letters began arriving from all over the world with signatories including Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. At its height 300 sacks of mail a week were being delivered and there were separate collection points in America and Australia.

A decade later, a team of volunteers, including the local scout troop, is required to help the family deal with the post. Stan White, a neighbour, said: "All the letters have to be opened because some contain cheques. The stamps are sold and the letters sent for recycling which has raised pounds 63,000 for charity. Craig gets a lot of fluffy toys, cars and sweets which are sent to hospitals and charities."

The Guinness Book of Records, which warned the Shergold family of the possible consequences of the appeal, has since deleted the category in the hope of halting spread of the phenomenon. In the past the family faced the daunting task of sorting genuine letters from the avalanche of cards. Their telephone was cut off on one occasion because they never found the bill or the red reminder that followed it.

They have since moved house which makes it easier to sort their correspondence. But the get-well messages keep on coming.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent