A RETIRED teacher who has spent the last two decades sharing her passion for stamps with young people marked her 500th school visit this month.

Erene Grieve returned to Mary Immaculate School in Haverfordwest recently, 21 years after her first ever stamp workshop was held there.

"I can hardly believe that I have completed 500 visits to schools," said Erene, from Milford Haven.

"I have worked in small village schools, large inner city schools and top private schools.

"Children are captivated by the notion of the stamp - something that is normally just taken for granted - and the difference it made to communications.

"They also really like the idea of having a collection of them.

"I think partly it's the history behind it all - the story of the Penny Black; the stories linked to some of the most expensive stamps in the world, and the way that stamps picture life in Britain, past and present, as well a showing aspects of life in other countries.

"Children love to have knowledge, and you can learn a lot from looking at a stamp - different languages and currency; famous people and events, and discovering something you knew nothing about.

"Teachers often ask me to link with what they are doing in schools, for instance the First and Second World War, the Victorians, inventions, British values etc.

"The subject can be linked to most parts of the curriculum - from how letters were sent before we had stamps, going back to ancient times, or how they were sent in the Tudor era and during the two World Wars as well as the situation today when fewer people are sending letters.

"Much of our history has been gleaned from letters written a long time ago.

"Will that important email still be around in 100 years or 1,000 years time?"

The project has gone from strength to strength with bookings in schools from Inverness to the Isle of Wight.

It was awarded the Rowland Hill Award in 1999 and 2003, as well as the British Museum Learning Award in 2012, and the British Philatelic Congress Medal in 2018.

The workshops are a free service to schools and all the children go home with items to start a stamp collection, which many of them do.

Schools interested in a workshop or a return visit should contact Erene at stampsinschools@gmail.com for more information.