Two young brothers from a philanthropic family have sent more than 1,000 thank you letters to NHS staff and other key workers during the pandemic.
Toby and Tommy Hutchinson, from Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, began their acts of kindness by challenging themselves to write 999 cards to ambulance workers between November and the end of 2020.
They hit this target and have now expanded this to NHS staff, teachers and other frontline workers – sending posters to as many as possible with the message “Not All Heroes Wear Capes”.
The family’s connection with ambulance workers began in 2018 when three-year-old Toby required five ambulance rides due to epileptic fits.
Before the pandemic hit, Toby and older brother Tommy, five, had been leaving goody bags on ambulance cars to thank paramedics for their work. They then switched to sending these by post when social distancing measures began.
“Kindness is our religion,” the boys’ mother Lisa Hutchinson told the PA news agency.
“We believe kindness is for life, not just for Covid, but this pandemic should hopefully make people appreciate others more and show more kindness,” added Mrs Hutchinson, who is a volunteer for charity Home-Start Norfolk.
With the help of their family, the boys have also been leaving paintings of clay and rock ambulances around their home town for people to find – which they call “Norfolk Nee Nors”.
Those who find the miniatures are invited to either keep them or hide them again, in the hope they will travel across the country.
The boys are helped by their mother, siblings Alex, Adam, Jamie and Tia, and father Richard Hutchinson, a car mechanic.
Tia, 16, began a charitable enterprise of her own 10 years ago, when she was just six years old.
Tia’s Treasures launched in 2011, selling handmade bracelets and keyrings to raise thousands of pounds for child cancer charity CLIC Sargent and the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.
The fundraising began after one of Tia’s close friends lost her sight to retinoblastoma and she continues to raise money to this day.
Mrs Hutchinson said her children hope their “kindness is contagious” and that more people will be inspired to participate in random acts of kindness due to their actions.
She added that Tommy and Toby’s challenge has been made possible by donations of stamps, envelopes and other items by members of the Facebook group Hit The Ambulance Gamers.
The group, which was created before the pandemic, encourages people to undertake “hits” on key workers – which in this case means a random act of kindness, such as leaving gifts and cards on emergency vehicles.