A weekly newspaper helped give a cricket-loving schoolboy an early Christmas treat as part of a campaign to spread festive cheer.
Big-hitting former England batsman Kevin ‘KP’ Pietersen paid a visit to 10-year-old Ryan Belsey as part of the Kentish Gazette’s The Elf Service campaign, designed to encourage random acts of kindness suggested by readers.
Ryan faces his first Christmas without his dad Stephen who died in April aged 42, but Pietersen stunned the cricket-mad pupil after dropping into his primary school in Canterbury.
Gazette news editor Joe Walker managed to get Pietersen on board, after Ryan’s mother Rebecca got in touch.
Editor Leo Whitlock said: “Our hearts broke when we received the nomination from Ryan’s mum Rebecca and we knew we had to do our best to do something special.
“We could not believe it when KP agreed to take time out of his hectic schedule to make a wish come true – we cannot thank him enough.
“The video of the surprise is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time – my glasses certainly steamed up when I watched it although I denied crying when taunted by the news desk.
“This is the first Christmas act of kindness we have been able to arrange but nominations are flooding in and the elves are working overtime to put a smile on even more people’s faces.
“Our story shows the local press can make truly magical things happen.”
The campaign was the idea of former Gravesend Messenger news editor Lauren Abbott, Leo’s wife.
Their children – Oscar, aged three, and Olivia, aged 18 months – donned elf outfits for the logo.
To see a video of Ryan’s meeting with KP, click here.