Skerries schoolboy Aron Anderson has received thousands of cards and messages of Christmas cheer from around the world after one internet user suggested the generous scheme.
Aron was first brought to people’s attention after an article in The Daily Telegraph dubbed him the “loneliest schoolboy” in Britain.
Now it could be said that Aron has gone from lonely schoolboy to minor celebrity. On top of his thousands of cards he has received gifts such as cheques and DVDs and has now even made a couple of television appearances.
The flurry of cards came about when Ross McMahon, a member of Reddit’s Scotland forum going by the username BesottedScot, wrote: “Last week, I was moved by the news story of ‘Britain’s loneliest schoolboy’.
“I took it upon myself to organise something nice for him. I thought it would be very nice if we as a ‘subreddit’ sent him some Christmas cards.
“We have 20,000 subscribers on here and if even one per cent of you send a card that’s 200 cards to a lonely boy to cheer his Christmas right up. I hope you’ll do me proud and send some nice festive cheer.”
Mr McMahon’s hopes for around 200 cards were dramatically surpassed when the post went viral and users from outside of the Scotland forum jumped onboard with the scheme.
The cards now number at over 5,000. The cards and gifts are coming not just from Scotland but from all over the world. There has been mail from France, Belgium and even as far away as Japan and Australia. Inside many of the cards there are letters, postcards and photographs.
Among the gifts Aron has received have been sweets and chocolates from around the world, ice hockey jerseys from North America, and drones and toys donated by toy companies.
Aron’s mother Denise Anderson said: “One card he’s really taken with came from a winner of the European Truck Championships. There’s a picture inside of him with his trucks. Aron just loves that kind of thing.”
Another letter and card of interest came from an astronaut. Asked how the whole experience had been Mrs Anderson described it as “manic”.
Last Thursday Aron appeared on ITV’s breakfast show This Morning. He was joined by Denise, while Mr McMahon was also included in the segment via a Skype link.
The show, hosted by Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, lavished Aron and his mother with even more Christmas gifts during his first ever trip to London.
ITV organised a range of Christmas activities for the pair including trips to the Sea Life centre where Aron was able to see animals such as penguins.
They were also taken to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, and to a stage musical production of popular Christmas film Elf at the West End.
Their hosts rounded off their activities with a shopping trip to Oxford Street and a junk food meal at a restaurant of Aron’s choice, which is, to paraphrase Mr Schofield, a rare treat for a Shetlander.
Denise said of the television experience: “We had a fantastic time. Holly and Phil were just lovely.”
Aron enjoyed himself too and at one point he told his mother: “Maybe I’d like to stay here.”