Norwich mail centre rivals Santa on their busiest day of the year

Norwich Royal Mail sorting office staff processing Christmas cards and gifts on their busiest day of

Norwich Royal Mail sorting office staff processing Christmas cards and gifts on their busiest day of the year.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

It is common knowledge that Christmas Eve is Santa's busiest day of the year, with presents to deliver across the world.

Norwich Royal Mail sorting office staff processing Christmas cards and gifts on their busiest day of

Norwich Royal Mail sorting office staff processing Christmas cards and gifts on their busiest day of the year.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

But what few people know is how Norwich Mail Centre lends a hand, processing 1.5 million pieces of post on its busiest day of the year.

Following a busy weekend when people begin posting their Christmas cards in order to reach friends and family on time, the centre processes 50pc more post on December 13 than on any other day of the year.

Despite processing 1.5 million items, compared to 700,000 pieces of post on an average day, the amount sorted over the course of yesterday is still a fraction of the letters and parcels that the centre will see over the Christmas period.

Some 27.9 million letters and 5.4 million parcels will pass through the centre's doors between mid-November and the end of December this year.

Norwich Royal Mail sorting office staff processing Christmas cards and gifts on their busiest day of

Norwich Royal Mail sorting office staff processing Christmas cards and gifts on their busiest day of the year.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Chris Hull has worked at the centre for 25 years. He operates the ILSM machine, which processes 40,000 letters every hour.

He said: 'For three weeks we're going to be at it all the time.'

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Mr Hull said he had already sent his post and urged others to get their parcels in the post early.

He said: 'We just hope people have posted early so recipients get time to get their mail.'

Plant manager, John O'Shea, said the Christmas season was exciting for the centre.

He said: 'It's more exciting because it's more busy and there's more people about.'

Rebecca Maund, a spokesperson for the Royal Mail, said the company begins planning for the festival period in April. She said: 'These three weeks are a culmination of six months of work.'

Both Mr Hull and Mr O'Shea made the same plea to senders: put the full postcode on letters and parcels. They said having a full postcode helped them speed up the process.

Letters addressed to Santa, of which the centre sorted many yesterday, are special.

The sender will receive a reply from Santa - via Royal Mail, of course - in return.

Journey of a letter from city mail centre

From Papua New Guinea to Texas, the Norwich Mail Centre spent yesterday sorting letters and Christmas cards for all over the world.

Mr O'Shea explained how a Christmas card to New Zealand would travel from Norfolk to the other side of the world.

Mail is collected from across Norfolk and parts of Suffolk and taken to the Norwich Mail Centre.

Once there, the Christmas card is put in a bag with other mail for New Zealand and driven down to Heathrow within 24 hours.

It is put on a plane the same day, meaning it takes only 48 hours for the card to reach New Zealand from Norwich Mail Centre.

When it arrives the letter is out of Royal Mail's hands, meaning it is down to New Zealand Post to deliver the festive greetings.

Mr O'Shea said all the post for outside the UK, in the centre on December 13 would reach recipients in time for Christmas.

Final posting dates:

• December 20 for 2nd class

• December 21 for 1st class

• December 22 for Special Delivery Guaranteed

• December 23 for Special Delivery Saturday Guaranteed

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