A weekly newspaper has created its own gold postbox in celebration of an Olympic champion who was born on its patch – after Royal Mail bosses chose to paint a pillarbox elsewhere.
Macclesfield Express journalists expected a postbox in the town to be painted gold in honour of Sailor Ben Ainslie’s medal at the Games, because he was born there and had his first experience of sailing at nearby Redesmere Lake.
But Royal Mail said they were painting one in the Cornish town where Ben spent much of his time before he moved to Lymington in Hampshire.
After this news, the Express decided to take matters into its own hands, with reporter Chris Slater spray-painting one of the small postboxes the paper has in Macclesfield for readers to contact it.
Chris said: “I painted it in the car park behind our Macclesfield office and then took it around the town to be photographed in all the right places.
“And then I got an exclusive interview with Ben and he said he was chuffed we had done it. He said no one had asked him where he wanted it and he was proud he now has one in Macclesfield.”
Elsewhere, local and regional papers across the country have seen their sales and website hits boosted as a result of their Olympic coverage, while gaining exclusive interviews with athletes and their families.
Sheffield’s The Star saw traffic to its website grow, with unique users up by 40pc year-on-year after heptathlete Jess Ennis secured a gold medal at the Games.
After her win, she spoke exclusively to the paper, which sent a reporter to London to cover the Games as part of the regional press pool.
Star sports writer Richard Fidler said: “As she was the ‘face of the Games’ and she was in high demand both before and after the Olympics we were particularly delighted that she spoke to us when her commitments were many.”
Sports editor Sara Raine, from Plymouth’s The Herald was sat next to the wife and daughter of long-distance runner Mo Farah on the day he secured the first of his two gold medals, writing a piece for the paper about her conversation with them.
Throughout the Games, the Wolverhampton-based Express and Star published a four-page pullout featuring stories by Nick Mashiter, the paper’s reporter at the Games alongside national Olympics news, which was updated and editionised seven times each day, five days a week.
Nottingham Post sports reporter Stevie Roden was the first journalist to interview local gymnast Sam Oldham after the men’s team secured bronze and the Post published a double-page spread every day of Nottingham-based stories from the Games.
Meanwhile, the Kent and Sussex Courier saw a sales boost after a last-minute decision to add an extra stop to the Olympic Torch Relay, thanks to Dame Kelly Holmes.
The double Olympic gold medallist lobbied Games organisers after her home town of Tonbridge was overlooked for the relay, resulting in it being brought there on 17 July.
The Courier’s Tonbridge edition enjoyed a 12pc year-on-year sales boost and the paper overall recorded a 3pc increase, with wraparound front pages produced for three of its editions.