‘I am not feeling too well’ - Postcard collector calls it a day after ‘transformational’ journey
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It was many years ago when a couple from Beccles who met at Butlins started looking for old postcards. It was the start of an extraordinary journey which is now coming to an end.
His voice weakened as he said: "I think I am going to have to call it a day. I am not feeling too well."
I suspect some of you reading this and seeing the photographs will know exactly who I am writing about. His name is Michael "the postcard man" Porter who heard recently he needs a triple bypass operation at Papworth Hospital.
I have been a journalist, working mostly in Norfolk and Suffolk, for more than half a century and it has been a privilege to have met some wonderful people. Michael and his dear late wife, Sylvia, were two of the very best.
A couple who devoted so much of their lives to helping others by collecting, sorting and selling picture postcards to people around the world and handing over a huge amount of money to the Norfolk Deaf Children's Society.
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Michael is a man who counts every penny they have made and total amount raised for the society now stands at £122,352.34p and £28,247.93p of that comes directly from cards sent in by readers of the Norwich Evening News, the Eastern Daily Press and Let's Talk magazine.
"I can't thank people enough and your readers had been so kind and supportive," he said.
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Michael, now 82, lost the love of his life Sylvia, three years ago, and admits it has been tough at times following her death as they were such a great double act.
The couple, grew up at Beccles, and first met on holiday at Butlins. They worked at Clowes, the printing company, and got married in the 1960s.
When Sylvia's father Edgar Suckling died he left her a collection of local postcards...and so it all started.
The pair of them produced a book Beccles & Bungay: A Portrait in Old Picture Postcards and the money they made from it went to the Friends of Beccles and District War Memorial Hospital and All Hallows, Dicthingham.
The book sold out and a second volume raised money for the May Centre in Beccles.
Now they were hooked on this postcard collecting. Discovering more and more about the fascinating history of the picture postcard and how much certain ones were worth.
In 1981 they heard about the work of the Norfolk Deaf Children's Society. They raised £1.15p, put it in an old shoebox, eventually handed over a much larger sum which was used to buy phonic ears.
With help and support from the Norfolk Postcard Club, they set out to collect, sort and sell tens of thousands of picture postcards on just about every subject under the sun at fairs, in shops, and before long they had customers all over this country and abroad.
As time moved on the money they raised was used to buy a range of high-tech equipment and the bond of friendship between the Porters and the young people blossomed.
Howard Jones, former treasurer of the society, said he would like to wish Michael a well deserved "retirement."
"Over many years, Michael has been dedicated and almost unstoppable in his support. He showed tremendous strength in continuing to raise money after his dear wife Sylvia passed away, and I wish him a swift and comfortable recovery," added Howard.
Michael was named an Unsung Hero of the Year at the EDP Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney Awards and was then honoured by former prime minister Theresa May who awarded him a Points of Light award.
The award recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
In a personal letter Mrs May praised Michael saying: "The money you have raised has had a transformational impact for thousands of children, providing resources that would not have been possible without your extraordinary commitment."
Modest Michael wants to turn the spotlight on others who have helped him over the years including the late Roy Waller of Radio Norfolk followed by Matt Gudgin and Keith Greentree, members of the Norfolk Postcard Club, Stamps at Bagleys in Norwich, Ian and Lynne Hurst at Sheringham among many others.
We wish you a speedy recovery Michael...