By James Somper
A pair of best friends have been giving each other the same Christmas card for 50 years.
Alan Braithwaite, 72, first met Christopher Oakley, 72, in the early 1960s at a Young Farmers Club and have been close ever since.
In 1969 Christopher sent Alan an Oxfam Christmas card with three wise men on the front along with a message asking Alan to send the card back to Christopher by December 1st 1970.
The pair have been sending the card back and forth ever since along with a short message summing up the events of the year.
Alan, a retired agricultural contractor, said that receiving the card from his old friend always brings a smile to his face.
He said: “It’s a tradition. It keeps going back and forth.
“We’ve got to the stage in the last ten years where we deliver it by hand because we don’t want it to get damaged in the post.
“People think we’re tight or doing it to save money but it’s all in good humour.
“I remember the first time I sent it back to Christopher, I wrote a message saying ‘sorry I’m a bit late’.
The tradition began in 1969 after Christopher sent Alan a Christmas card from Oxfam with three wise men on the front along with a message asking for him to return the card by post in time for Christmas 1970.
Seeing the funny side, Alan duly returned the card just before Christmas the following year along with a message saying ‘sorry I’m a bit late’.
The yearly ritual has continued ever since, with the pair swapping custody of the card along with a short message written on the back of the card.
While the pair insist they aren’t Scrooges, they reckon they’ve saved thousands over the years by sending the same card.
Alan and Christopher alternate sending the card to one another each year and say they’ve never missed sending it.
After four decades of sending it by post, Alan and Christopher didn’t want to risk damaging their keepsake so have spent the last ten years delivering it to each other by hand.
As they enter their 50th year of sending each other the card, Christopher decided to place it in a special wooden frame to protect it from the elements.
The grandfather-of-one said: “We don’t know whether it’s a great idea or if we’re being cheapskates!
“People always say how brilliant an idea it is. There’s so much bad news in the world it’s nice to mark our friendship in this sort of way each year.
“We’ve known each other for 60 years and the card means something to us and seals what’s happened in the year, it documents what’s been or good bad.
“I’d love it if someone out there wanted to do the same sort of thing.”