Ten-year-old Leon fell in love with our Lovable Huggable Panda when he saw it in our Hunts Cross store in Liverpool – but his mum said he couldn’t have it until her next payday.
He found an empty cardboard box, popped the panda inside it and quietly wrote a message on the box: “My mum didn’t have enough money to buy me Pandy so she’s buying me Pandy on 15th June so please don’t buy him as it will make me cry. Thank you so much from Hopeful Future Owner.”
Our colleagues at the store were so moved when section leader David Bateman found the message they clubbed together to buy Pandy – and put out an appeal on Facebook to track down his “future owner”.
Lots of people shared David’s appeal, including the Liverpool Echo – and Leon’s mum Debbie Ashworth spotted their post when she was flicking through her Facebook feed.
She took Leon back into the store – and there were smiles all round when Pandy was handed over.
Debbie said: “As he was walking out he said to me ‘This is the best day of my life’. It meant the world to him – thank you so much Asda!”
Debbie, who’s 36, is an intensive care nurse at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and lives with husband Paul, Leon and their other children Troy, 11, and seven-year-old Jennifer.
She said Leon and the rest of the family have had a hard time this year.
“In January my son Oliver was born prematurely and passed away four days later so it’s been a really tough, difficult time for all of the family, especially the children who were so involved in the lead-up to the birth.
“It’s amazing how big a difference little gestures like this can make, and Leon is so happy.”
Debbie said: "I’m always in the store and a week ago I came in to pick up some essentials. Leon spotted this panda – he just seemed drawn to it and said ‘mummy can I please have this panda?’
“I explained to him that I didn’t have enough money – it was just before payday, you know what it’s like. So I told him we would come back next week after I’d been paid and get it as long as he was a good boy.
“He kept saying he didn’t want anyone to buy it so he found a cardboard box, got a pencil out of his pocket and wrote a note on the box.
“He then put the panda in the box and put it back on the shelf. I didn’t actually see what he’d written at that time. I didn’t think much more about it and I just thought someone would take it out of the box and put it back on sale.
“A few days later I was flicking through Facebook and I saw the Echo’s post about it. I hadn’t realised until then what Leon had written – he’d really poured his heart and soul into his message! He’s like that – he wears his heart on his sleeve.”
After the happy reunion for Leon and Pandy, Debbie said: “I was getting all emotional seeing Leon with Pandy, and Leon was welling up too. It’s so lovely that they took the time and cared so much to make sure Leon got Pandy.”
David said: “When we spotted the panda and the message on the box in the toy aisle all of the colleagues just fell in love with the whole idea of it. We’re all absolutely made up about it – Debbie has been messaging me to express how grateful she is.”
David was away from the store on the day Debbie and Leon came in – so the happy task of handing over Pandy went to customer service colleagues Kelly McEvatt and Amy Lindsay.
Kelly said: “Debbie said ’I’ve come in to pick up my son’s panda!‘. The moment I handed the panda over was brilliant – to see Leon’s face was just wonderful. It’s the best moment I’ve had working here.”
Leon's story made lots of people smile – and caused quite a few tears too – when we shared it on Facebook. More than 45,000 people liked, shared or commented on the post.