Royal Mail has bowed to pressure to produce special postage stamps celebrating every British gold medal win at the Paralympic Games, as it has at London’s Olympic Games.
The UK postal service has produced 29 different stamp designs since 27th July, celebrating TeamGB’s individual gold medal achievements at the London Olympics, with the special stamps going on sale the day after each medal was awarded.
But the company got into hot water with its plans for the Paralympic Games, which are set to get underway in London on 29th August, since it had decided to produce only a series of six stamps featuring all of Britain’s Paralympic medallists, to be released after the Games.
The plans did have the support of the British Paralympics Association, which accepted last week that at the Beijing Games in 2008, British Paralympians took home 42 gold medals, including nine in one day, compared to the 19 British gold medals won at the Beijing Olympics, making it “logistically and practically impossible” for Royal Mail to produce an individual stamp for each gold medallist in the British Paralympics team.
Nevertheless, after criticism including a letter from shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell suggested the policy was not fair to Paralympic sportspeople, Royal Mail today decided to produce individual stamps to honour Paralympic gold medals.
The special First Class stamps will be produced and put on sale in 518 post offices with five days of each Paralympic gold medal win, before being made available in 5,000 further branches.
As with Olympic gold medals, Royal Mail will also be painting local post boxes gold in the home towns of British Paralympians that win gold medals.
“The right thing to do”
Royal Mail said its change of policy came in response to public demand, and as the result of the success of British athletes in the London Olympics, which came to a conclusion on Sunday.
The Paralympics, which runs until 9th September, will feature 4,200 athletes from 160 countries participating in 471 medal events in 21 sports.
Andrew Hammond, the managing director of Royal Mail Stamps, said it was the “right thing to do” to honour Paralympians in the same way as Olympic athletes.
“Just as our Olympians outperformed expectations, we are confident that our Paralympians will also outperform,” he said. “That will see us issuing many more individual stamps than the 29 printed over the London 2012 Olympics fortnight.”
Hammond said it would be “the greatest logistical challenge” ever for a postal administration in the production of stamps to get the Paralympian Gold Medal stamps ready for sale within five days.
Tim Hollingsworth, the chief executive officer at the BPA, thanked Royal Mail for reconsidering its proposal.
“We are delighted that the offer has been increased to enable individual stamps to celebrate our athletes’ achievements,” he said.
“We hope that the whole nation will continue their support of British athletes and cheer us on to many gold medals.”
Royal Mail has donated GBP 200,000 to the British Paralympics Association this year, which will be shared equally among all UK Paralympic gold medallists.
Source: Post&Parcel/Royal Mail