When Christine Woods turns 70 this month, there will be one very familiar birthday card landing on her doormat.
For the past 40 years, she and sister-in-law Freda Fisher have been sending the same card to each other on their birthdays - adding in a new line of text each time.
It all began when Freda bought a card for Christine from a shop in Stamford to mark her 30th birthday on February 19, 1977.
Christine had married Freda’s brother, Fred Sandall, in 1970 and the two women had become close friends.
Christine, who lives in Pinewood Close, Bourne, said: “She presented me with the card and had written on the box ‘To you from me, please return’.
“I don’t really know why, but we started sending the same card backwards and forwards every birthday.
“We added a new message each time. We’ve had to add new pages to it as time has gone on, and it’s had some sticky tape to hold it together, but it’s something we are going to carry on doing.
“Freda started it - she’s a silly person and anyone you told about the card would say ‘yes, that sounds like Freda’.”
Freda, 64, lives in Grimsthorpe with husband of 30 years Mervyn. Although Christine’s marriage to her brother came to an end in 1986, she said the pair’s friendship has never faltered.
Freda said: “When Christine married Fred it was great because she was like the sister I never had but always wanted. We were close then and still are today. I still call her my sister-in-law.
“We always buy each other birthday presents, but never a new card. It’s always the original one from 1977 which gets sent backwards and forwards. It’s a bit of fun which has become a tradition.
“Thinking back, I never dreamed we’d still be using it 40 years later.”
Christine, a retired secretary with three children and six grandchildren, added: “40 years sounds like a long time, but it doesn’t feel it. I can clearly remember being presented with the card for the first time. Time has flown by.”
After having the birthday card on display for a few days after her birthday, Christine will pack it away ready to return to Freda when she turns 65 in September.
Freda, who has one son, retired in 2012 from Sandall’s Butchers, in Bourne, which had been set up by her parents, Norman and Ruby Sandall, 58 years earlier. She was the last of the Sandall family to work there.