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August 10, 2012

The Royal Mail Should Produce Stamps for Paralympic Gold Medal-Winners (Updated)

By Spear's

It is not the fact that the Royal Mail have said they will not produce stamps for each Team GB Paralympic gold medal-winner which is annoying (although it is). What has really got my goat is the supine way ParalympicsGB has accepted it Updated with response from Royal Mail and from the Communication Workers Union

Originally published at the New Statesman

It is not the fact that the Royal Mail have said they will not produce stamps for each Team GB Paralympic gold medal-winner which is annoying (although it is). What has really got my goat is the supine way ParalympicsGB has accepted it.

In a post on their website, they said:

“In Beijing, ParalympicsGB won 42 gold medals over 10 days of competition, including nine in one day, and we are expecting a similarly world-class level of performance from our athletes this time around. As a result, it is logistically and practically impossible for Royal Mail to produce an individual stamp for every one of the gold medallists for ParalympicsGB.”

So because our Paralympians are *better* than our Olympians they should get *less* recognition? Where’s the logic in that?

You can be damn sure that if by some stroke of skill, luck and genius the Olympic team won 42 gold medals there’d be stamps of all of them. And how hard can it be to produce 42 stamps when they’re already producing a minimum of 22 for the Olympics?

Yes, Paralympians get gold postboxes in their hometowns, and there will be a series of six stamps celebrating our winners, but when LOCOG has done very well to place the Olympics and Paralympics on equal terms, giving our able-bodied and disabled athletes the same measure of respect, this difference becomes all the more noticeable.

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The truth is, the Royal Mail doesn’t think that the public will be interested in Paralympic winners like Olympic winners, despite the Paralympics producing such stars as Tanni Grey-Thompson and (for South Africa) Oscar Pistorius. What’s worse is ParalympicsGB seems to accept that, giving feeble gratitude for the little recognition it feels it deserves.

Paralympic achievements are no less than Olympic achievements and Paralympic athletes deserve no less recognition and support – especially from their own team.

Update (Friday 10 August)

Yesterday I emailed the CEO of the Royal Mail, Moya Greene, about this and today I got a response from the head of Public Affairs. It reiterated some of their weak lines like ‘Royal Mail is doing more than any postal operator in the world has ever done for a Paralympic Games’ and ‘In determining the number of stamps, we have had to factor in the very large number of gold medals we anticipate ParalympicsGB will win. If they match or exceed their achievements in Beijing it could be 50 or more. It was judged to be logistically impossible to publish one stamp per medallist.’

Then they added a reason which stretches credulity to such an extent I had to snort with derision: ‘We also have to keep in mind the significant financial burden on collectors. Such a number would put such a set beyond their means.’ So philatelists who can afford 25 Olympic stamps can’t afford 50 Paralympic stamps? This is, to put it plainly, bullshit.

If you agree, you can email Moya Greene at

Update 2

I have heard from the Communication Workers Union, which represents postmen, who say that the Royal Mail should produce stamps for each gold medal-winning Paralympian:

‘Following the revelation that Royal Mail will not be producing next-day stamps for gold medal winning Paralympics athletes, the Communication Workers Union is today urging Royal Mail to continue its amazing achievements in celebrating the success of Olympic gold medal winners by treating Paralympians the same.

‘Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “Royal Mail has done a fantastic job in celebrating the successes of Team GB through the next-day stamps and overnight gold post boxes. These efforts have caught the imagination of the public and helped to extend the excitement and celebration of the 2012 Games beyond London.

‘“We believe that the same treatment should be given to our Paralympic athletes.

‘“CWU is aware there are some potential logistical problems with producing next day stamps for the expected volume of gold medals in the Paralympics. However, if we work together in the spirit of the Olympics we think there should be a way of overcoming these issues and finding a way to celebrate the achievements of our Paralympic athletes in equality with our able bodied Olympians.

‘“Paralympians have overcome incredible injuries and disabilities in order to compete at the highest level of sport. There must be efforts that Royal Mail, with the support of its workers, can pursue to bring next-day stamps to celebrate their achievements.”’

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