‘Best day’

Taunton fancy dress team deliver parcels in convoy

Colleagues from Taunton Mail Processing Unit (MPU) gave one young customer her ‘best day’ by donning fancy dress and delivering her parcels in convoy.

Twelve-year-old Creech Heathfield resident, Ella Bale has cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease and DiGeorge Syndrome, a condition which causes heart problems among other symptoms. The Heathfield School pupil is currently recovering in Bristol Children's Hospital, after undergoing major heart surgery on Monday.

Ella wasn’t told about her heart operation until the last minute to avoid making her too anxious. But before she went into hospital, the team at Taunton MPU dressed up and drove to Ella's house in 15 Royal Mail delivery vans to surprise her with some presents.

When family friend Amanda Nicholls asked Taunton postwoman Evette Chapman if she could arrange for a colleague to deliver Ella’s parcels, a number of Evette’s colleagues said they wanted to take part, and so a convoy was organised instead.

Taunton MPU manager, Dan Riddle, said: ‘We have been dressing up in fancy dress in the office for the last three weeks for our local NHS charity, Love Musgrove. We have raised just under £5,000 so far, which has been way above what we expected. What we didn’t expect was just how much the costumes have made customers smile during the lockdown – they have absolutely loved it.

‘When Evette, who has been in a different costume every day, said she had been contacted by Amanda about organising a special surprise for Ella, I thought we could do something really special. We decided we would ask everyone who had been dressing up to come along and deliver a parcel to Ella in our costumes. We then arranged a time with Amanda when Ella would be outside her house.’

After Ella’s dad told her there was a ‘little surprise’ waiting outside,’ the Taunton team drove past honking their horns, before parking up and walking to Ella's drive with the presents – maintaining social distancing throughout. 

‘You could see the look on Ella and her family’s faces - they were so happy,’ said Dan. ‘Ella was smiling and looked genuinely surprised. Evette delivered a written message to Ella, which she read out brilliantly. That was really emotional for everyone. I am incredibly proud of my team for what they have done in the last three weeks. This was the perfect way to finish it off. It was great to see Ella’s family and friends all smiling – it made all of our days as well.’

Amanda Nicholls told the Somerset County Gazette: ‘It was amazing and really emotional. The posties handed over the presents and had a little chat. Ella's favourite was Batman, who she described as “sexy.” She said to her dad: “I've had the best day. I loved it.” That made it all worthwhile.’

Postwoman, Evette Chapman, said: ‘There is no way we could say no to the request as all we want is to put smiles on people's faces and this little girl sounds like she needed it.’ 

Picture by Somerset County Gazette.

27 May 2020