The Postellers is a group founded in 1968 by Martin Johns and Diane Nightingale with the aim of introducing young people to the countryside through youth hostelling. A measure of the success can be given in terms of numbers of trips, but the success in terms of lives developed and changed for the better is hard to quantify. However, our belief is that the value was always there in abundance and we want to pass on our experience in the hope that others may benefit from it. The last trip was run in February 2017 with pressures of running costs (new mini-bus required), lack of publicity, recruitment difficulties and increasing regulatory demands making continuation too much of a challenge.
The calendar of a typical Posteller year involved around ten weekend trips to hostels within about 70 miles of London, plus a four-night trip at Easter and one or two week-long trips during the summer months. The latter trips would go further afield to places like the Lake District, Wales, North York Moors and Scotland. The minimum age for joining the Postellers was 10 and the hope was that new recruits would become regular participants, although they could dip in and out as they wished. Once they reached 15 or 16, we encouraged them to become junior leaders on trips.
Members were informed of trips through a newsletter that arrived through their letterboxes each month (post + hostelling = Postellers). A key element was encouraging the young people to take on responsibilities, so that they were involved in planning trips, minibus cleaning and taking on such activities as map reading while on trips.
Travel was mainly by the Postellers’ own minibus, although there were some trips with larger numbers (bonfire party, valentines party, Ivinghoe Rally) where travel had to be by train.
Another feature of the Postellers was to take young people from all backgrounds, some who would be classified as disadvantaged and others as not. Meeting on neutral ground led to a situation where all could gain in different ways from the others’ experiences. An attempt to quantify the achievements is given on the Achievements page.