Bee Happy

There’s a buzz around the town as local resident Catherine Heaton takes bee-ing creative to another level…

The post box on Castlefields Drive brought a smile to the face of many, and this nationwide craze is not only raising smiles, it’s also raising money.

The creative catalyst of the post box hats, or toppers as they are known, is Catherine Heaton, founder of Mary’s Snowflake Creation.

Catherine was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and set up Mary’s Snowflake Creation as a charity in 2014, producing hand knitted and crocheted items, to raise money for The Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Catherine spoke of the work involved “We only charge for the materials used and don’t charge for our time but ask that people make a donation in return for our labour.   It has been incredibly successful, with four of us now creating orders that are posted all over the world.  A very close friend, Winnie, who also has MS, joined me very early on, in 2014.  This year, we are not far off raising £9,000.”

Catherine described how the post box hat idea was formed “When the pandemic forced the country into the first lockdown in 2020, I realised that our posties were providing such a vital service and as keyworkers, were working very hard to provide it.  I felt that I should do something to say thank you on behalf of the community and as I certainly wasn’t short of yarn, I decided to crochet rainbow post box hats for both the post box outside my local sorting office and another for the post box in the estate where I live, both for them and for our community.  My aim was purely to raise a few smiles”.

The post box hats stayed in place for over a year and more recently Catherine decided they were a bit weathered and she created two new ones; this time with a BeeHappy theme.  The featured photograph ‘Bee Happy’ was taken by local photographer Moira Wooldridge and will feature in the 2022 Prudhoe Calendar, which Catherine is delighted about.

Catherine was supported with yarn throughout lockdown, by Pauline at Ready Steady Knit on Front Street.  It was at Pauline’s suggestion that the post box on Front Street deserved a hat too – a trio for Prudhoe!

Cllr Ignasious Varghese, also one of our local posties, shared the news of the post box hats with Prudhoe Delivery Office Manager, Richard Batey, and the Royal Mail was keen to show their appreciation to Catherine.

Richard said “The Pandemic has proven a tough time for all, particularly for our postal workers, who have worked tirelessly on the frontline throughout.  Ever changing guidance, health risks and general uncertainty has had a detrimental impact on the morale of staff across the country.  Luckily, here at the Prudhoe Delivery Office, we have been inundated with support from our loyal customers; whose unwavering positivity and gratitude has truly lifted the spirits of many.  In particular, Catherine’s wonderfully handcrafted post-box hats that bring so much colour, vibrancy and happiness to the village, customers and posties.  The sense of community spirit is overwhelming, and we are incredibly proud to serve the Prudhoe area.”

Cllr Bryan Futers and new Mayor of Prudhoe was delighted to be invited along to celebrate Catherine’s achievements for her charity, and for making Prudhoe part of this national effort to put a hat on a post box.

Cllr Futers said, “It is amazing that Catherine has used her fine skills to create something to share with the community, as well as raising funds for The Multiple Sclerosis Society.  And then to find out that post box hats are being created across the Country, that certainly made me smile and I felt very proud that Prudhoe was part of this crafty phenomenon.”

1st photograph below features (left to right) Cllr Ignasious Varghese, Chris Heaton, Catherine Heaton, Mayor Cllr Bryan Futers and Richard Batey.  Taken at the post box on Front Street.