PHILATELISTS packed the Western Community Centre, in Rodbourne Cheney, for an annual stamp and postcard collectors fair.

The event in Somerset Road saw experts advise enthusiasts about thousands of sought- after stamps.

Margaret Strike, from Cleeve Lawns, in Lawn, said: “When I was a young girl you would get letters with all kinds of exciting stamps on them from right across the world.

“I got involved with collecting because I had a real love for geography and you could tell so much about a country by what was on its stamps.

“Nowadays there is a lot less letter writing and most people living across the world from each other resort to email or text, so it’s not what it used to be.”

The 73-year-old and her husband Ian, 75, travel the world visiting philatelist bureaus in search of rare stamps.

“I think it’s a wonderful hobby,” said Margaret.

“You can pick it up and put it down at any time but it really focuses the mind and makes you view other countries in a different way.”

Margaret, a member of Swindon Philatelists’ Society, was one of an estimated 500 visitors to the event on Saturday.

Society secretary Nigel Borlase-Hendry, from Woodhall Park, Swindon, said he would like to see more young people get involved with the hobby.

“We have 35 active members in the society and I’m one of the youngest at 57,” he said.

“I started as a young man, then began working and forgot about it for a bit but you always go back.

“Now that I am retired I spend a lot more time devoted to it and it really is interesting.

“You learn so much about the countries that were once part of the British Empire then became independent.

“We started collecting Kenyan stamps when it became independent because they were just so different.

“I would recommend stamp collecting to anyone.”

Swindon Philatelist Exhibitions which organised the event, also hosts a fair at St Joseph’s Catholic College in Ocotal Way on the second Saturday in June every year.

For more information about Swindon Philatelists’ Society visit www. wilts/swindonps.