Did you know Norwich had its own Christmas postmark?

Michael and Sylvia Porter raised more than £122,000 for Norfolk Deaf Childrens' Society. Mrs Porter

Michael and Sylvia Porter raised more than £122,000 for Norfolk Deaf Childrens' Society. Mrs Porter has died, aged 74, after a short ilness. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Rare postcards bearing the Norwich Christmas Cross. There are very few around today to remind us of a very special delivery which has long since been forgotten about.

As author, the late Philip Standley of Wymondham, wrote in one of his Picture Postcards books in the 1980s: “One of the scarcest postmarks to be found on postcards is the Christmas Cross.

“This postmark was applied to letters and cards handed in to the Post Office from  December 12 to 22, with delivery guaranteed on Christmas Day,” wrote Philip.

Norwich was the only city in East Anglia to use this Postal Delivery Service, only in operation in 1907 and 1908. That is why there are very few of these cards still around.

Philip thought an oval Christmas Cross was allocated for 1903 but, to his knowledge, one has never been seen. This type of postmark was more widely used in the Liverpool and Manchester area between 1902 and 1909.

The card with the 1908 Norwich Christmas Cross which was sent to us. 

The card with the 1908 Norwich Christmas Cross which was sent to us. - Credit: Standley Collection

The Christmas Cross from 1907 features in  Volume Two of his collection of books. It is a card to a Miss L Mann in Norwich wishing her a bright and merry Christmas.

The card bearing the 1908 Norwich Christmas Cross was one I discovered in a bundle left for me at our office.

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I would hand them over to Michael and Sylvia Porter who, for so many years raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Norfolk Deaf Children Society by selling cards.

Michael, who lives near Beccles, and his late wife Sylvia, dedicated much of their life to helping others…in particular deaf children.

And we at Archant (ECN) were proud to help them.

They sold postcards which readers sent. First Clement Court on the Eastern Daily Press and then Whiffler at the Eastern Evening News. That was me.

Our stories about the Porters and the society captured the imagination of our readers and listeners to Roy Waller and then Keith Greentree at Radio Norfolk who also collected them from listeners.

Then there was the Norfolk Postcard Club, Stamps at BagIeys in Norwich, Ian and Lynne Hurst at Sheringham and many more.

I always appreciated the time and trouble you, our readers,  went to to collect up your old postcards and drop them off for Michael and Sylvia to collect.

Michael, now 84 and not enjoying the best of health, lost the love of his life Sylvia about five years ago, and was forced to give up collecting and selling cards.

They had raised the astonishing sum of £122,352.34 – he always counted the pennies – for the Norfolk Deaf Children’s Society and £28,247,93 came from the cards you sent to us.

Michael Porter with his late wife Sylvia and members of the Norfolk Deaf Childrens Society in 1994.

Michael Porter with his late wife Sylvia and members of the Norfolk Deaf Childrens Society in 1994. - Credit: Archant Library

The money raised went to help the young people in so many different ways, to buy hi-tech equipment for instance, and the bond of friendship between them blossomed.

"I cannot thank your readers enough,” said Michael who was named as an Unsung Hero of the Year at the EDP Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney Awards and was honoured by the then Prime Minister Theresa May,

She told him: “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.”

Merry Christmas Michael…and thank you.

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