Royal Mail backtracks - Lymington will get official gold post box in honour of Ben Ainslie (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Royal Mail backtracks - Lymington will get official gold post box in honour of Ben Ainslie
1:25pm Thursday 16th August 2012 in News
ROYAL Mail chiefs have done a U-turn and agreed to paint a Hampshire post box gold in honour of Olympic sailing hero Ben Ainslie.
The pillar box near Ben’s Lymington home will be given an official golden glow after bosses backed down in the face of a huge campaign in the town.
And police have decided to take no further action against Lymington businessman Rob Smith, who illegally painted the High Street box himself last Saturday.
Mr Smith was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage but will not now face any charges. Last night the 54-year-old businessman was overjoyed at the latest developments.
Mr Smith said: “I’m over the moon. It’s all I ever wanted for Ben, for Lymington, and everyone who has supported the campaign.”
Describing the decision as a victory for common sense, he added: “Thousands of people wanted the post box to be painted gold – I’m just the person who did it.
“Now it’s going to be done officially. The Royal Mail has been swayed by public opinion and has taken a very sensible decision.”
The town mayor, Councillor Jacqui England, also welcomed the climbdown.
“It’s really good that they’ve seen sense at the end of the day and listened to the public,” she said.
Over the past 16 years Ben has won four gold medals and a silver, making him the most successful sailor in Olympic history.
Following his latest triumph in Weymouth almost two weeks ago Lymington residents assumed that the Royal Mail would paint one of the town’s letter boxes gold in recognition of his achievement.
But bosses decided that the tribute should be staged in Restronguet, Cornwall, where Ben grew up and learnt to sail.
Last night officials backed down after approaching Ben and his agent, who were asked for their views.
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “There’s been a huge amount of interest in this. We understand the depth of feeling – Ben’s a local hero and sailing is very much part of the community.
“Ben loves the gold post box in Restronguet but would love to have one in Lymington as well – and we’re happy to oblige.”
Police said the decision to take no further action against Mr Smith was agreed before the Royal Mail changed its mind.