Medals going home

Postman becomes a media sensation for uniting families with precious heirlooms

Away from his crucial work delivering growing numbers of parcels for locked down customers in need, Adam Simpson-York was facing his own stay-at-home strife when a personal passion became a new mission and led to unexpected national media attention, writes Paul Smith.

The Suffolk postie hit the headlines when he helped to unite a woman with her grandfather’s World War One medals, after finding them on eBay.

BBC News, Good Morning Britain, Daily Mirror and ITV’s Lorraine show came calling as his kindly act sparked a media frenzy, once the woman – Jocelyn Trent, from Peterborough – became so enamoured with what he’d done that she decided to tell all.

It’s left Adam a man in demand from the media and potential customers across the globe seeking his help, spawning his Medals Going Home project.

‘It has been crazy – my phone has been ringing constantly, and I don’t think it is going away,’ Adam told ‘People from Australia were ringing me at midnight!

‘It was around eight or nine years ago I started to build family trees as I found it interesting. At Christmas, with lockdown, I was pulling my hair out finding something to do. I wanted to do something different using my knowledge of ancestry, so I went on eBay, bought a medal and was able to track down a rightful owner before it had even arrived to me in the post!’

A new passion was born and soon came widespread attention.

The Ipswich Delivery Office postman found a British War Medal and Victory Medal for £35 online and, after discovering they belonged to Charles Leonard Sharman, began trying to track down any living relatives.

Ancestry websites, national archives and social media led him to Jocelyn, who he messaged saying he believed he had her grandfather’s medals.

‘I started building the family tree and luckily there was already ancestry to draw upon,’ explains Adam, who has worked for Royal Mail for 11 years. ‘Jocelyn’s distant cousin helped me join the dots.

‘Through the ancestry we found she has relatives in Australia and living nearby, too, that she had no idea about. She couldn’t believe it and was so enthusiastic. Her husband and her mum have passed away so she doesn’t have many relatives. To then be told there were people from her family around the corner blew her mind.’

With demand increasing, Adam set up his Facebook page and hopes to help plenty more.

‘From being just an odd thing to do when I was bored, to going worldwide – it is crazy,’ he said.

‘I’m quite good at problem solving and I find it quite easy to do. There are some really great stories out there and they should be told.

5 Mar 2021