Michelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)
A ‘postbox to Heaven’ set to be installed in cemeteries across Antrim & Newtownabbey borough
A “postbox to Heaven” is to be installed in Antrim and Newtownabbey’s cemeteries to help children grieve.
The proposal was made by Deputy Mayor Councillor Leah Smyth, an Antrim representative, during a meeting of the borough council’s Operations Committee on Monday evening.
Cllr Smyth explained she was inspired by nine-year-old Nottingham girl Matilda Handy who suggested the idea as a way of expressing her emotions after her grandparents passed away.
An old postbox painted white was installed at Gedling Crematorium, in Lambley, where Matilda’s mum Leanne works.
As a result, Cllr Smyth said the schoolgirl was comforted by the idea of being able to send letters to her deceased grandparents.
“It is just a nice sentimental gesture. The response was overwhelming.”
Cllr Smyth said it would be of benefit to children who have had a recent loss and who are struggling with their grief.
"I propose that we install one of these postboxes in each cemetery and the cards can be recycled when they are full,” she added.
Committee chair Antrim Alliance Cllr Neil Kelly said it was “a lovely idea” and Deputy chair Ulster Unionist Cllr Norrie Ramsay said he would like to formally propose the idea.
Macedon Ulster Unionist Cllr Robert Foster commented he would be happy to second the proposal.
“I am sure this will have a tremendously positive effect on some people. I lost my own mother when I was 12. It is something I would have found comforting. For a minimal cost, it will provide tremendous solace for a lot of people. I am delighted to second.”
Antrim Ulster Unionist Cllr Jim Montgomery also welcomed the proposal saying: “Children find different ways of dealing with grief. I believe it is a very good idea.”
Cllr Kelly noted support for the initiative from across the chamber.