Exmouth boy's famous card collection to be exhibited at Prattshayes
Local Exmouth boy Ollie had quite a surprise when he recently turned 15. Over the course of a month, he found 18,769 birthday cards from over 46 countries on his doorstep.
The surprise came after Ollie made two cards for himself, because he enjoys opening cards but only has a small family, and struggles with friendships due to his autism.
His mum, Karen Jones, then shared a plea on social media asking for people to send birthday cards to her son.
Her original post asked people in the local Exmouth area: “if you have an old [card] in the back of a cupboard, maybe you could send it to him?”
The scale on which people responded is beyond what Ollie’s mum expected. Cards for Ollie arrived non-stop for 36 days, with local posties delivering them by the crateful.
“When I first made the post, I hoped for 20, perhaps 30 cards if we were lucky. The response has been phenomenal,” said Karen, “We were mass opening them to make room for the next arrivals, and I made sure to read every single card.”
He also received about 100 birthday badges and various other gifts, and has since spent some of his birthday money on Lego kits, a bed for his dog Poppy and a new bike.
One of the key points Karen wants to make is that “there is an ‘Ollie’ in every street.”
This global act of kindness has shed a positive and encouraging light on the autistic community, and for Ollie that has included a confidence boost. His mum reports that now the world seems like a kinder place to him, and he’s even starting to feel encouraged to socialise a little more with people at school.
With so many cards, it can be difficult to know what to do with them.
It’s a shame to box them up, so the family wanted to display Ollie’s cards for the people of Exmouth to view. The first run of the exhibition took place in Brainwave charity shop in Exmouth. The second exhibition will then be set up this week on the National Trust site, Prattshayes.
“It’s a really positive, feel-good story,” says Steve Rollason, Director of Prattshayes, “It affected so many people and gave them a lift, so we wanted to help in any way we could. It’s nice to see what people can do when they pull together.”
Prattshayes is a local campsite, set in an old farmhouse with historical links to Sir Francis Drake. The large barn and added bonus of a café make it a wonderful place to display the cards.
The exhibition will run for two weeks, and everyone is welcome to visit Prattshayes to admire the global well-wishers.
You’ll be able to enjoy the 18,769 cards from Saturday 5 November - Saturday 19 November, 10am-6pm.
Need any more information?
Address: Exmouth Country Lodge & Campsite @ Prattshayes, Maer Lane, Exmouth, Devon, EX8 5DB