Bygone memories have inspired the launch of a telegram delivery service in Leamington and Warwick which has proved popular during lockdown.
Russell Peake set up Spa Telegram after reflecting on how the latest lockdown has left people feeling separated.
And the optician from Leamington is using the service to raise money for sight loss charity Guide Dogs.
Russell said: “I just thought it’s a novel way of communicating and keeping in touch while we’re all apart.
“I managed to get hold of a really old typewriter and started making templates.
“I take requests for telegrams via email and I type them up, then deliver them locally using my bike.”
Russell was also inspired by memories of telegrams belonging to his family.
“My parents had one framed in the house from my dad to my mum – saying ‘I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.’
“It’s something that you can keep forever, and it doesn’t get lost in the sea of messages on your phone.”
Russell started the service at the beginning of March and has already hand-delivered over 40 telegrams locally.
He added: “I’ve had requests from families wanting to tell elderly relatives how much they miss them, birth announcements, birthday messages and some joke messages too.
“It’s been a real mix – from the really insignificant to the really significant.”
Russell and his family volunteer as Fosterers for sight loss charity Guide Dogs and have been looking after trainee guide Fred, a Golden Retriever cross German Shepherd, since February last year.
“People started to ask the cost for a telegram, so I decided to ask for donations to Guide Dogs.
“I’m close to the charity as a volunteer, so I thought it would be nice to raise some money for Guide Dogs through the telegrams.”
Liz Gilbert, community fundraising relationship manager for Guide Dogs, said: “Russell has come up with such a fantastic idea to keep in touch with loved ones and we’re so pleased that he’s chosen to support us here at Guide Dogs too.
“It costs £54,800 to support a guide dog from birth to retirement and, as a charity, we rely almost entirely on public donations.
“We wish Russell the best of luck with this project.”
For more information about Spa Telegram and to donate to Guide Dogs, visit https://www.spatelegram.com/ or @spatelegram on Instagram or https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/spatelegram