your IPF Representative
(an authorized agent for IPF's Head Office in Australia)
Martine has been an enthusiastic IPF Representative for many years. Whatever you are from, you can contact her in French, English or Spanish and you will get a personal answer back.
Martine also has a long experience in writing to penfriends. She was an IPF member before to become an IPF Representative and had many penfriends from all around the world. She really enjoys international exchanges, learning about other cultures and traditions, and traveling around the world. Her husband, Jorge, is American with Argentinian origins. Multiculturism is really a part of Martine's everyday life.
IPF was founded by Neil O'Donnell from Dublin, Ireland on 7 April, 1967. Neil's motivation was strong. Inspired by his experiences as a young child growing up during World War II, his vision was to give people in all age groups, from every country, the opportunity to gain penfriends and promote world peace and understanding through sincere correspondence.
From its humble beginnings in a shoe box, IPF has grown to be regarded as the world's greatest penfriend club, providing more than 1.5 million people aged from 8 to 80+ years with penfriends and offering services in six different languages.
Given IPF's success was achieved long before the Internet became popular, and has continued in a technologically advanced society, is a reflection of the never-ending motivation and determination behind IPF, and high quality of the service it provides.
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 gained the assistance of an IPF representative in Northern Ireland and drove each week from Dublin to Belfast to post and collect the mail. His determination was intense, given the danger of such a journey due to the unrest in Northern Ireland at the time.
IPF has also had to overcome many political and economic challenges to gain members in certain countries. During the 1980s and early 1990s, IPF provided a free penfriend service to over 40,000 people in Eastern Europe, giving those people the opportunity to experience the benefits of global friendship, an opportunity they otherwise would not have been able to enjoy.
To this day, IPF continues to provide many free and heavily subsidised 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. For example, over the years Petur Thorleifsson from Iceland has recruited over 30,000 members. Considering that the total population of Iceland is around 280,000, Petur has done remarkably well.
In 1995, IPF's representative Lesley Fox in New York, USA worked with the toy manufacturer Mattel to create the Special Edition International Pen Friends Barbie doll, with the packaging promoting IPF's services. A new generation weresoon enjoying the fun of the penfriend hobby.
Most of IPF's representatives initially joined IPF as members and have been inspired by their own experiences of writing to penfriends, thus wishing to assist IPF in its goals. To name a few: Ming-Jiing from Taiwan joined IPF 30 years ago and has now recruited over 25,000 members. Pamela Walker, UK and Nikola Hahn, Germany, have similar experiences. Martine Darroux, France; Lorrin Lee, Hawaii, USA; Petr Ondrousek, Czech Republic; Joina Moura de Almeida, Brazil and Lionel Mutua, Kenya are other representatives with outstanding achievements.
Representatives in their early 20's and late teens, such as Andrea D'Ambra, Italy and Paul Griffin, Canada have now joined the IPF team and their enthusiasm is helping IPF to gain many more members from all corners of the globe.
The work of all IPF's representatives helps ensure that the widest possible country choice for penfriends is available to everyone who joins IPF.
From Ireland to Australia
Neil continued his great and tireless work for IPF until 31 January, 2001, when, at the age of 68, he retired. However, his deepest wish was for IPF to continue and on 1 February 2001 Julie Delbridge took over the role of President and relocated IPF's Head Office to her hometown of Melbourne (East Camberwell), Australia.
Julie has a Bachelor of Business Administration (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia) and her passion for IPF and the penfriend hobby is extremely strong. Julie first joined IPF as a member when she was a teenager in 1979, later becoming a representative in 1982 and was appointed the Australian Coordinator in 1990, working in that role until January 2001.
In the above roles, Julie widely promoted IPF both in Australia and overseas, and was consistently among IPF's Top Five recruiting representatives. Julie is also still writing to three of the people who were on the first list of penfriends IPF sent her in 1979, and over the years has been able to form many special friendships and meet many remarkable people who have greatly enriched her life. Her experience is not unique - everyone who joins IPF is given the opportunity to enjoy the many personal rewards associated with global friendship.
Since moving to Australia, Julie and the IPF Head Office team and worldwide representatives have worked on various initiatives to continue IPF's growth and success. These have included the re-launch of IPF's magazine People & Places into a dynamic full-colour publication, the publication of a booklet on letter writing and penfriend hints and the development of a new state of the art computer database. The new database provides many enhanced features for all members, and has given IPF the opportunity to greatly expand its school class service.
Byron Bay and Beyond
Another step in IPF's Head Office journey has been its move with Julie and her husband Peter in August 2004 to Suffolk Park, located in the coastal township of Byron Bay. Situated at Australia's most easterly point, Byron Bay is renowned for its cosmopolitan culture, stunning white sand beaches, dolphin and whale watching, sub-tropical climate and rainforest walks.
For many years Byron Bay's natural beauty has provided inspiration to the many writers and artists who live in the area, in addition to the many thousands of people who visit each year.
It is a truly unique landscape to work from in continuing IPF's vision of giving people in all age groups, from every country, the opportunity to gain penfriends and promote world peace and understanding through sincere correspondence.
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 penfriend hobby.
IPF is in no way whatsoever associated with, or part of, a penfriend organisation based in Washington State, USA.