A POSTIE had her final fancy dress round last week after turning up for work in a variety of costumes to spread joy during Covid-19, raising thousands of pounds along the way.

At the start of lockdown, Diane Atkinson, from Leeholme, County Durham, decided to raise money for the food bank on Woodhouse Close, in Bishop Auckland, after being inspired by other postal workers dressing up elsewhere in the country.

The postie topped her original aim of reaching the £2,000 mark, raising a total of £2,543 for the food bank.

The 53-year-old, who works for Wear Valley Royal Mail, said: “Everybody absolutely loved the costumes, especially the kids, and because a lot of children are still at home, they looked forward to me calling.

“I would visit a couple of the kids after work if I wasn’t delivering their post, just so they could see me dressed up.

The Northern Echo:

“It really cheered people up, I had people proper belly laughing at all the different costumes.

“I actually lost a relative to Covid, and I couldn’t go to the funeral - I had to watch the funeral on TV, and that was the weirdest most surreal thing I’ve ever done in my life.

“I had days when I just didn’t want to face the world - I would put my costume on, and as soon as people started to laugh and enjoy it, I kind of forgot about what was going on.

“My family live in Portsmouth where my uncle Bob lived, and I haven’t seen them to spend time with them, so I don’t feel like I’ve grieved properly.

The Northern Echo:

“I wore his favourite costume when I went back to work, and I told everyone why I was wearing it because up until then I hadn’t worn anything twice.

“When I was dressing up for the public, some days they didn’t know that I was fed up, but I kept going because during this time they were the most important people.

“The nicest thing is everyone tooted or waved, clapped, cheered, and called my name.

“People have asked me to their house, called with donations, I would go home and there would be food parcels on my doorstep.

The Northern Echo:

“It was good fun, but now everything is trying to get back to normal, I thought it would be a good time to try and get back to normal myself.

“Now I’m back in uniform, I miss the wig and the makeup – I’ve got ironing to do now!”

The postal worker brought a lot of excitement to the community with her costumes, and also gained a lot of younger fans waiting to see her.

She said: “I made a lot of new little friends, and I’m going to get some sweets after work to take to their street.

The Northern Echo:

“On the last day of dressing up, I went in my 80s rock chick signature costume, and they’d got all their mates out all wanting pictures – I felt famous!

“They all donated whatever they could in the little box, ten pence pieces and things.

“I literally walked around the corner and cried my eyes out, I thought it was the cutest thing.”

The postie added: "A massive thank you to everyone who donated, and the public of Bishop Auckland.

"I dressed up, but the public were the ones who donated, and without them the food bank wouldn't have that money - I'm totally blown away by everyone's generosity.

"A special thank you to Lisa Hood from Woodhouse Close Estate for all of the help she's given me over the last few months - I couldn't have done it without her.

"It just shows when people are in need and there's a pandemic going on, people do all pull together."