Craig Shergold

Last updated

Craig Shergold
Born (1979-06-24) 24 June 1979 (age 39)
Nationality British
Known forReceiving the most greeting cards and earning him a spot in the 1991 and 1992 Guinness Book of World Records

Craig Shergold (born 24 June 1979) is a British former cancer patient who received an estimated 350 million greeting cards, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records . Variations of the plea for greeting cards on his behalf in 1989 are still being distributed through the Internet, making the plea one of the most persistent urban legends.

Cancer disease of uncontrolled, unregulated and abnormal cell growth

Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These contrast with benign tumors, which do not spread. Possible signs and symptoms include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel movements. While these symptoms may indicate cancer, they can also have other causes. Over 100 types of cancers affect humans.

Greeting card illustrated piece of card or high quality paper featuring an expression of friendship or other sentiment

A greeting card is an illustrated piece of card stock or high quality paper featuring an expression of friendship or other sentiment. Although greeting cards are usually given on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or other holidays, such as Halloween, they are also sent to convey thanks or express other feelings. Greeting cards, usually packaged with an envelope, come in a variety of styles. There are both mass-produced as well as handmade versions that are distributed by hundreds of companies large and small. While typically inexpensive, more elaborate cards with die-cuts or glued-on decorations may be more expensive.

An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend is a modern genre of folklore. It usually consists of fictional stories, often presented as true, with macabre or humorous elements, rooted in local popular culture. These legends can be used for entertainment purposes, as well as semi-serious explanations for random events such as disappearances and strange objects.



In 1988 Craig Shergold began complaining of ear aches. After antibiotics were unsuccessful in treating his symptoms, in 1989 doctors diagnosed him, at the age of nine, with what they considered terminal brain cancer. [1]

Terminal illness or end-stage disease is an incurable disease that cannot be adequately treated and is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient. This term is more commonly used for progressive diseases such as cancer or advanced heart disease than for trauma. In popular use, it indicates a disease that will progress until death with near absolute certainty, regardless of treatment. A patient who has such an illness may be referred to as a terminal patient, terminally ill or simply terminal. There is no standardized life expectancy for a patient to be considered terminal, although it is generally months or less. Life expectancy for terminal patients is a rough estimate given by the physician based on previous data and does not always reflect true longevity. An illness which is lifelong but not fatal is a chronic condition.

Greeting card campaign

Craig's friends and relatives began a chain letter campaign requesting individuals to send greeting cards to him with the goal of beating the Guinness Book of World Records for 1,000,065 greeting cards received. [2] [3] Craig received greeting cards from all over the world including celebrities like Madonna and Arnold Schwarzenegger. [4]

Chain letter Letter written in succession by a group of people

A chain letter is a message that attempts to convince the recipient to make a number of copies of the letter and then pass them on to a certain number of recipients. The "chain" is actually an exponentially growing pyramid that cannot be sustained indefinitely. Common methods used in chain letters include emotionally manipulative stories, get-rich-quick pyramid schemes, and the exploitation of superstition to threaten the recipient with bad luck or even physical violence or death if he or she "breaks the chain" and refuses to adhere to the conditions set out in the letter. Originally, chain letters were letters one received in the mail. Today, chain letters are often sent via email messages, postings on social network sites, and text messages.

Madonna (entertainer) American singer-songwriter and actress

Madonna Louise Ciccone is an American singer-songwriter, actress and businesswoman. Referred to as the "Queen of Pop" since the 1980s, Madonna is known for pushing the boundaries of songwriting in mainstream popular music and for the imagery she uses onstage and in music videos. She has frequently reinvented her music and image while maintaining autonomy within the recording industry. Although having sparked controversy, her works have been praised by music critics. Madonna is often cited as an influence by other artists.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Austrian-American actor, businessman, bodybuilder and politician

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American actor, filmmaker, businessman, author, philanthropist, activist, politician, and former professional bodybuilder and powerlifter. He served as the 38th Governor of California, from 2003 to 2011.

The Children's Wish Foundation became involved in the campaign in the early stages and quickly became overwhelmed by the volume of cards being received, though they later disavowed any connection with the chain letter campaigns. [2]

The campaign was successful and Shergold's name was added to the 1991 Guinness Book of World Records as having received 16,250,692 get-well cards by May 1990, [5] and again in the 1992 Guinness Book of World Records as having received 33 million cards by May 1991. [6]

Treatment successful

Craig's cancer worsened. His British doctors estimated he might only have a few weeks of life remaining and suggested the family bring him home for the last few weeks. Virginia billionaire John Kluge, founder of Metromedia, learned of Shergold's illness and arranged for him to travel to the United States for a new type of operation. He was operated on in 1991 at the University of Virginia Medical Center, where a physician was able to remove virtually all of the tumor except for a benign fragment. [4] Craig grew into a healthy adult.

Virginia State of the United States of America

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U.S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million.

John Kluge American businssman

John Werner Kluge was a German-American entrepreneur who was at one time the richest person in the United States. He was best known as a television industry mogul in the United States.

Metromedia defunct American media company

Metromedia was an American media company that owned radio and television stations in the United States from 1956 to 1986 and controlled Orion Pictures from 1988 to 1997.

Chain letter popularity

Even after his recovery, the chain letter continued to circulate and millions of greeting cards continued to flow to Shergold's home. Craig estimated that by 1998, he had received a total of 250 million cards. Variants of the chain mail changed Craig's name to "Craig Shelford", "Craig Stafford", "Craig Shefford", "Greg Sherwood", or, a version particularly popular in Poland, "Draing Sherold [7] ". Another variant involves requests for business cards. [3] A related chain letter which retained Shergold's address (in a somewhat corrupted form) asked secretaries and heads of Polish public institutions and local authorities to send get-well cards to a "Harold Sarid". [8]

The Royal Mail gave their home its own postal code because of the volume of mail they received. To avoid the deluge of mail, the family halted mail delivery and later moved.


Since 1989, Craig has received approximately 350 million greeting cards. As an adult, Craig does not make any public appearances other than to express his new wishfor the mail to stop. [9] As of 2013, he continues to receive cards, sent to his old address. [10]

The Make-A-Wish Foundation also states on their Web site that they do not engage in chain letters or telemarketing activities and also denies any involvement in fulfilling Craig's original wish, stating that it was done by another wish-granting organization. Any mail that is received is forwarded to a recycling center. [11]

In 1993, Shergold's mother, Marion, wrote a book about her son's story entitled, Craig Shergold : A Mother's Story. [12] On 10 November 2001, PAX TV aired a made-for-TV movie, The Miracle of the Cards . The movie starred Thomas Sangster as Shergold and also featured Kirk Cameron as a cynical reporter. [13]

World record retired

Guinness World Records has retired the record and requested that individuals no longer respond to any requests for greeting cards. [14]

See also

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  1. "Cancer patient Craig Shergold Wants to Break The World Record for Receiving Greeting Cards". Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  2. 1 2 Emery, David. "A User's Guide to Craig Shergold". . Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  3. 1 2 Mikkelson, Barbara & David P. "Craig Shergold". Snopes . Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  4. 1 2 "Flood of postcards continuing after Craig Shergold cured of brain cancer". Kingman Daily Miner . 6 July 1998. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  5. Donald McFarlan & Norris McWhirter (1991). Guinness Book of World Records, 1991. New York City: Bantam Books. p. 487. ISBN   0553289543.
  6. Donald McFarlan & Norris McWhirter (1992). Guinness Book of World Records, 1992. New York City: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 216. ISBN   0851123783.
  9. Williams, Robert M. (21 November 2007). "Most of us just want to be kind". The Alma Times. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  10. Tahir, Tariq (7 February 2013). "Well-wishers send 350m get well cards to former cancer patient". (UK) Metro. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  11. "Fraud Alerts". Make-A-Wish Foundation . Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  12. Marion Shergold & Pamela Cockerill (1993). Craig Shergold: A Mother's Story. New York City: Bantam Books. p. 364. ISBN   0553406299.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  13. "The Miracle of the Cards". IMDB . Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  14. "Frequently Asked Questions". Guinness World Records . Retrieved 14 June 2012.