Retired police officer vows to keep town’s spirits high with post box toppers

Max McLean, PA
·2-min read

A retired police officer has vowed to continue cheering residents up in Rhyl with her homemade post box toppers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rachel Williamson, 57, retired two years ago and has been putting more than 50 years of knitting and crocheting experience to good use by cheering locals during lockdowns with her crafting skills.

The latest batch to appear in the Welsh town includes a behatted octopus, a gnome surrounded by animal friends and a mole emerging as if from the post box.

Rachel Williamson, a retired police officer, has been making postbox toppers in Rhyl, Wales, during the coronavirus pandemic
The creations draw many visitors (Ruth Williamson/PA)

And with around 70 toppers under her belt since March last year, and the pandemic ongoing, Ms Williamson is far from done.

“Yes I am going to carry on,” she told the PA news agency. “People are going out walking. People have organised bike rides around it, there’s a guy who walked two hours to find them!

“People (are) actively going out to find them, and I think it just gives people something to do in the day.

“I had a text from somebody who said their mum’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer. ‘We’ve just come from the scan, both feeling sad and then we saw your toppers’.”

Rachel Williamson, a retired police officer, has been making postbox toppers in Rhyl, Wales, during the coronavirus pandemic
Some have a nautical theme (Ruth Williamson)

The idea to make the toppers came at the beginning of the first lockdown in 2020, when Ms Williamson and her sister Ruth went to the chemist and saw “everybody looked miserable”.

Since the first creation – a sparkly rainbow – further efforts have included a Christmas theme, as well as forging both Ant and Dec in wool to celebrate nearby Gwrych Castle hosting I’m A Celebrity in November.

The result is a local phenomenon that has seen Ms Williamson receive cards, chocolates and flowers, while the postal workers have been lifted by the additions to their working day.

Rachel Williamson, a retired police officer, has been making postbox toppers in Rhyl, Wales, during the coronavirus pandemic
Postal workers enjoy the toppers (Ruth Williamson)

“The postman that delivers here quite often chats about them and says how they raise morale at the post office,” said Ms Williamson.

“The response has just been phenomenal. I think it’s just a little bit of brightness.”

The toppers are created using a mix of crocheting and knitting, and while she has help from her mother and sister, the former police officer said each topper takes around three days to make as “they’ve got a bit more complicated now”.

Rachel Williamson, a retired police officer, has been making postbox toppers in Rhyl, Wales, during the coronavirus pandemic
The toppers can take three days to make (Ruth Williamson)

She continued: “I must admit I’m not struggling for ideas, but they’re getting a bit thinner, because I’ve done so many and I always think people are getting sick of them.

“I’ve just had a lovely great big wool donation today, so now I have to carry on, don’t I?”