Charlotte thinks philately will get her everywhere
IF YOU asked an average teenage girl what their hobby is you may not expect them to say stamp collecting.
But then Charlotte Smith is not an average teenager.
"I love it," said Charlotte.
"I've been doing it for about a year now and it really interests me."
Some would wonder how a girl of only 15 finds her way into the world of philately in the first place, but Charlotte's reason lies close to her heart.
She said: "I do loads of stuff with my grandma, like cooking and sewing, and I really wanted to spend more time with grandad.
"So because he really loves it, I decided to go along with him and have a go."
Charlotte, who is still too young to be a full member of the Plymouth Philately Society, accompanies her 78-year-old grandad John once a month.
She is the youngest member with some others being more than 60 years her senior. But she says the age difference doesn't bother her.
Charlotte added: "It's not a problem at all. I get on with everyone really well, because they're all quite like my grandad; they're his friends.
"It's like one big family, really. It's a really good club and I'd recommend it to anybody, of any age."
Charlotte is not only the youngest affilate member the society at the moment - she is the youngest it has ever had.
And although she originally went along to be with her grandad she has now developed a keen interest in philately.
The teenager said: "I love doing it because I love spending time with grandad, but I also find it really interesting. It's really cool to see all the stamps and learn the history of them and find out where they come from."
Her personal collection focuses on stamps from her favourite country, Canada. When asked what it is she loves about Canada, she laughs.
"I know it sounds silly, but I love the snow."
But Charlotte has other reasons.
"I just really like Canadian stamps because Canada's my favourite country. I have family near Vancouver and I've been to other parts of Canada like Niagra Falls, so I really like the country and it's great to learn about the history of it."
Unsurprisingly, her hobby is not one that is hugely popular with her peers, but she admits it doesn't bother her friends.
"They were a bit shocked when I first told them, because it's not really your average hobby for a girl my age, but they're fine about it.
"I would ask them to come along, but I know they wouldn't be interested. It's really not their kind of thing."
It was over 150 years ago in a Plymouth chemist that the world-renowned Stanley Gibbons stamp collecting company was born, but its position won't be at risk any time soon, with Charlotte aspiring to stamp her mark away from the world of philately.
"I really want to work in the fashion industry, hopefully doing styling or maybe designing. I go to a Saturday course at Plymouth College of Art and do textiles, ceramics, photography and other arty stuff like that."
In her spare time that remains, Charlotte has a variety of other hobbies.
"I also do ballroom and Latin dancing and I do a bit of sewing and cooking with my gran as well.
"I like sports too, I play table tennis at the Life Centre most weeks. Every day I've got something on. I'm always busy."
While she may not be the next Stanley Gibbons, Charlotte is still keen to continue with the society.
"I'm going to be a full member when I turn 16. I'm going to keep going, because I love it."
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