Leeds & West Yorkshire

Family 'overwhelmed' by bullied boy's birthday appeal response

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Media captionHow celebrities marked bullied boy's birthday

A father who started a campaign asking celebrities to send birthday greetings to his son who is being bullied said he has been overwhelmed by the response.

Chris Hope-Smith, from Leeds, posted on Twitter asking if people could send positive messages to his son, Ollie, who is celebrating his ninth birthday.

He said what started as a request to try and cheer Ollie up turned out to be a "wonderful adventure".

"It has been an experience we will never forget," he said.

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'Laughed and cried'

As well as celebrities, the appeal also attracted a lot of interest from the general public.

Mr Hope-Smith said: "I initially asked for well-known/famous [people]. I then very quickly corrected myself and asked for any messages."

"And you didn't half make me proud," he said.

Many people also offered to send Ollie gifts or free tickets for events, but Mr Hope-Smith said the appeal had not been about financial gain.

"I have laughed, I have cried at these messages, they were your gift to my son," he said.

He added that anyone who had made an offer to consider giving to the Grenfell Tower victims, We Love MCR, the Diana Award's Anti-Bullying Campaign or the Teenage Cancer Trust.

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Image caption Stormzy was one of the celebrities to respond to the appeal

Scores of celebrities responded to the appeal, including British grime artist Stormzy, who wrote: "Happy birthday Ollie! You're a lil legend."

Astronaut Tim Peake wrote: "Hope your 9th birthday is out of this world Ollie. Just remember - a bully is a person too scared to do the right thing. Aim high dude!".

Others included Simpsons character designer Eric Keyes who sent a message to Ollie along with a personalised drawing of Bart Simpson.

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Image caption David Cameron wrote: "Wishing u a v Happy Birthday Ollie! You have so many willing u on, now incl a not so cool fmr PM 🙈. Stay strong, work hard & have a fab day!"

Other famous names who sent well-wishes to the schoolboy included:

Mr Hope-Smith said he has been surprised by the level of media attention his post attracted, but said it was "now time for us to be normal again".

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