My history of penpalling starts in a high school French course. My teacher said getting a French penpal would improve my French…and it eventually did. In the meantime, I found that I enjoyed getting post and also learning about teenagers in other countries. My interest in all things international translated to a university degree in international business and French and years living abroad in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. I'm also married to a Swiss.
Contact me at +1-980-275-9685 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Pen Friends (IPF) was founded by Neil O’Donnell from Dublin, Ireland on 7 April 1967. Neil’s vision was to give people in all age groups, from every country, the opportunity to gain pen friends and promote world peace and understanding through sincere correspondence. (Photo: Neil O’Donnell and Julie Delbridge)
From its humble beginnings in a shoe box, IPF has grown to be regarded as the world’s greatest pen friend club, providing more than 1.5 million people aged from 8 to 80+ years with pen friends and offering services in six different languages.
Some of the issues Neil faced during IPF’s early days are now hard to imagine. For example, during a postal and telecommunications strike in Southern Ireland during the 1980s that lasted five months (that is, five months with no telephone, fax or postal service), Neil drove each week from Dublin to Belfast to post and collect the mail. Given the unrest in Northern Ireland at the time, this was not an easy trip.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, IPF provided free penpal service to over 40,000 people in Eastern Europe, giving those people the opportunity to experience the benefits of global friendship. To this day, IPF continues to provide many free and heavily subsidized memberships to people in countries facing severe economic hardship.
Growth and Success
The enthusiasm and commitment of IPF representatives has also ensured IPF’s continued growth and success.
**Petur Thorleifsson from Iceland recruited over 30,000 members, (out of a population of 280,000).
**In 1995, Lesley Fox from New York worked with toy manufacturer, Mattel, to create the special edition International Pen Friends Barbie (pictured below).
The work of all IPF’s representatives helps ensure that the widest possible country choice for penpals is available to everyone who joins IPF.
From Ireland to Australia
Neil retired. at the end of January 2001 and Julie Delbridge, an agent in Australia, took over the role of President and relocated IPF's Head Office to Melbourne.
Julie has a Bachelor of Business Administration and her passion for IPF and the pen friend experience is extremely strong. Julie first joined IPF as a member when she was a teenager in 1979. Julie and her husband moved IPF's Head Office to Paynesville, Australia in October 2008.
Now and Beyond
IPF looks forward to providing an ever-increasing number of people worldwide with the opportunity to enhance their life through the countless dimensions of the pen friend experience