A macho mail man turned heads on his postal round after showing off his feminine side – by dressing up in a purple dress and wig.
Stephen Axford, 59, has been delivering letters for the past 20 years, but on Tuesday he dressed entirely in purple to raise awareness for people who have to wear a colostomy bag.
Postman Stephen, from Crawley, West Sussex, suffers from ulcerative colitis, and must carry a bag to collect bodily waste – even on his postal round.
Stephen developed the condition, similar to Crohn’s disease, which causes inflammation and ulceration of the inner lining of the rectum and colon when he was just 21-years-old.
He was fitted with a stoma five years ago after an inflammation which caused too much damage to his internal organs.
Stephen said: “A lot of people who get stomas can’t accept it. One woman I spoke to on my round said her sister couldn’t accept it and starved herself to death.
“A lot of people see it as being abnormal. A lot of companies don’t understand it either.
“Fortunately for me, Royal Mail have been very good from the start.”
Explaining what it is like to live with the stoma, he said: “If you need to go to the toilet, you need to go there and then. I’ve had accidents on duty.
“It’s not nice being a postman and soiling yourself.
“It’s really embarrassing. But I think the fact I’m not afraid to talk about it helps.”
“When I had it really bad I was delivering on a different round in Pound Hill.
“I used to know which of my customers had downstairs toilets and they were very understanding, so they would let me use them.”
Stephen raised more than £400 for the Colostomy Association from donations he received at the sorting office and by dressing up for his postal round.
He added: “It was really good fun.
“When women were giving me money I was saying ‘you know what it’s like for us ladies, we need somewhere to put our bits and bobs’ while carrying my pens and cards in my handbag.
“I’ll tell you what as well, I had loads of air around my bits.”
A spokesperson from the Colostomy Association said: “Around 1 in 500 people in the UK currently live with a stoma. For many it can be an isolating and lonely condition.
“We asked our supporters to grab people’s attention for this year’s Colostomy Association Awareness Day and Steven did an amazing job on raising awareness in a fun way for his customers in Crawley.
“This year’s Colostomy Association Awareness Day focused on fighting the stoma stigma and it is thanks to people like Stephen that there is growing public awareness of the issues facing people living with a stoma.”