ROYAL Mail has announced that the gold box post in Glengormley is to keep its 24 carat sheen permanently in recognition of runner Michael McKillop’s heroics at the Paralympics.
The box on the Antrim Road at Swanston - just a few hundred metres from Michael’s family home at Sandyknowes - was painted gold after the Glengormley man took gold in the T37 800m and 1,500m races at the London Games.
The 22-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, was hailed around the globe as being one of the greatest ever Paralympians.
Michael also received a special award from the International Paralympic Committee for being the male athlete who best exemplified the Paralympic spirit throughout the London Games.
To mark the achievement, Royal Mail painted the post box gold in honour of Michael’s medal success, and this week confirmed that it will remain gold and a plaque will be placed on the box detailing his heroics.
In total 110 post boxes were painted across the UK, including three in Northern Ireland to mark the achievements of Michael and fellow athletes Jason Smyth and Bethany Firth.
Speaking to the Times when the post box was painted, Michael said it was “a real honour” to have it just yards from his home as a lasting reminder of his record-breaking performances in London.
Gary Crawford, general manager for Royal Mail in Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted at the way people took to this simple idea.
“The gold post boxes gave communities even more opportunity to mark the successes of their local athletes - and became a part of local celebrations of London 2012 across the UK. I am pleased to confirm that these post boxes will be kept gold permanently.”
Former gold medal winner, Dame Mary Peters also welcomed the decision.
She said: “Northern Ireland’s Olympians and Paralympians kept us all gripped this summer by their achievements at London 2012, and none more so than our three local gold medal winning Paralympians. I am delighted that the gold post boxes for Jason, Michael and Bethany are to remain gold as a permanent tribute to their outstanding success.”
This is thought to be the first time in over 100 years the Royal Mail has permanently changed the colour of its post boxes. Originally the boxes were painted green to blend in with the landscape and in 1874 they were changed to red to be more visible to the public.