WHEN toddler Marley Hunter dropped her late brother’s favourite teddy on a Christmas shopping spree, no-one could have predicted the worldwide response.
But a pleading Facebook post from mum Fiona to help trace furry Pablo has gone viral – attracting would-be teddy hunters as far away as Australia.
The blue, one-eared bear originally belonged to Fiona’s son Jude, who died suddenly aged just five in 2011 – two days before Christmas Day. In the dark days since his tragic death Pablo has become a comfort toy to little sister Marley.
But the heartbroken 14-month-old lost her treasured toy on a Christmas shopping trip to Fort Kinnaird.
Touched by the heart-breaking tale, the story has been shared online thousands of times, with strangers even stopping Fiona in the street to ask if Pablo has been returned. She described the public response as “overwhelming”.
“It’s so lovely that people want to help,” said Fiona, who lives with her partner David in Lasswade. “It belongs to my son Jude who died two years ago, it was his toy and he loved it. Marley has only just started to pick it up and has really got very attached to it very quickly.
“We went out shopping on Thursday and she must have dropped it from the buggy between leaving Fort Kinnard and coming home. I phoned the shopping centre to check if someone had handed it in then I put a post up on Facebook to ask my friends to keep an eye open for it.
“Since then people have been sharing the post over and over on Facebook and Twitter – it’s gone viral.”
The teddy is a cuddly reminder of Jude who was admitted to hospital with a chest infection and died the following day from an undiagnosed hole in the heart.
Fiona said: “We have been offered a couple of replacements, which would be lovely, but we really want the one that was his back because it belonged to him.
“We have dealt with worse obviously, but it would be lovely to get him back for Marley.”
One of those helping the search is journalist Jill Stark, who lives in Melbourne. She saw her Twitter post highlighting missing Pablo retweeted hundreds of times in hours and said: “I never expected it would get such a huge response.”
Liam Smith, centre manager at Fort Kinnaird, urged people to be vigilant. He said: “We’ve alerted all our staff in a bid to find the child’s missing toy. Should anyone – member of staff or shopper – come across the missing blue cuddly toy please may you hand it in to customer services. [We want to] reunite this very special teddy with its owner in time for Christmas.”