An eight-year-old girl from Westward Ho! was given a birthday to remember on Thursday (April 30) thanks to kind-hearted village residents.
Hope Gleeson wanted to celebrate her eighth birthday with a Pokémon adventure party, until the coronavirus lockdown spoiled her plans.
But thanks to the power of social media, village residents made sure Hope could still go hunting Pokémon on her birthday by displaying pictures of the pocket monsters in their windows for her to find during her daily walk.
Hope’s father Tom came up with the idea with the help of his partner Ellie Stacey.
He said: “Being a typical child, Hope starts thinking about her birthday as soon as Christmas is over.
“This year she planned to have a Pokémon adventure party with her friends and we were due to hand out the invites when the schools closed.
“It was only after a week in lockdown that she turned to us and said ‘I can’t have my party, can I?’. She was very upset and that look in her eyes, as a parent, was heart-breaking.
“We had seen the rainbows in the windows and knew people were doing walks with their children counting rainbows so we thought maybe we could ask the people of Westward Ho! to pop a Pokémon in the window.”
Ellie put up a post in the Westward Ho! Community Facebook group, hoping for a few responses. The 75 Pokémon that ended up around the village was well beyond what they expected.
Tom and Ellie printed off pictures and posted them to residents who agreed to help, and some people printed their own too.
On the walk she was greeted by banners, cards, presents and renditions of Happy Birthday.
Not only that, F Heard Quality Meats organised a Pokémon birthday cake, made by Jean Cook, and Main Sail Tea Room presented Hope with some Pokémon-themed cupcakes while she completed her adventure.
Tom said: “As a family this has really touched us. Hope had no idea it was all for her despite noticing various Pokémon pop up around the village.
“We thought that a few houses near us would join in, but the response was incredible.”
After the adventure, the birthday girl said it was the best birthday ever.
Hope said: “I can’t believe people I don’t know did this all for my birthday. I am very thankful that I live in Westward Ho! It’s been the best birthday ever!”