Emerson Park pensioner receives post – 11 years late

Retired Roland Vials from Emerson Park, received a letter last Tuesday - a letter dated August 1, 20

Retired Roland Vials from Emerson Park, received a letter last Tuesday - a letter dated August 1, 2003. - Credit: Archant

Roland Vials doesn’t normally receive important post sent by recorded delivery, so when a postman arrived at his door asking him to sign for something he was already a bit surprised.

Retired Roland Vials from Emerson Park, received a letter last Tuesday - a letter dated August 1, 20

Retired Roland Vials from Emerson Park, received a letter last Tuesday - a letter dated August 1, 2003. - Credit: Archant

But nothing could prepare the Emerson Park man for the shock of learning this particular letter had taken more than a decade to end up at his door.

Wrapped in a protective plastic bag printed with the words “our sincere apologies”, the envelope was a little worse for wear. Inside was a letter, with a demand for money and a threat of legal action, dated August 1, 2003.

“It looked like it had been in a dungeon and the rats had been at it,” said 79-year-old Mr Vials, of Elm Grove. “By the time it got to me it was completely disintegrated – even the stamp was coming off.”

Its arrival, met with “fits of laughter” by his daughter, prompted the grandfather to write to the Royal Mail for an explanation.


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In his pithy and amusing letter, seen by the Recorder, he writes: “Having managed to extricate the said decaying envelope very gingerly from the plastic bag, I then attempted to prise the letter from the envelope – a very tricky job indeed.

“But eventually I succeeded in recovering enough of the letter to ascertain who had sent it and when it was sent.

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“Lo and behold the date on the letter was indeed August 1, 2003 – over eleven years ago.

“I admire the fortitude in your diligence in finally delivering the missive and I must say how lucky for you that I am still alive in order to sign for it.”

His light-hearted letter concludes: “I look forward to your comments in due course, although I have to say I probably won’t be around in 2025.”

A spokeswoman for the Royal Mail said the letter only entered their system at the Hornchurch delivery office on November 25, 2014, the day Mr Vials received the post, and so it was “safe to assume” it had been posted on November 24 because of the first class stamp on the envelope.

She added: “All our postboxes are cleared of mail daily and the postman scans a barcode once they are cleared so we have an electronic record to ensure that is the case.”

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