By James Speakman and Tui Benjamin
A mum has become a local celeb for dressing up as Where’s Wally to wave to cars and her neighbours.
Married mum-of-two Laura Edwards, 37, first took to the streets near her home in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, brandishing a giant rainbow flag to spread cheer during the lockdown.
But when she realised people must think she looked like a ‘wally’ while out with daughters Erin, two and a half, and Erica, 10 months, she decided to go the whole hog and buy the character’s iconic red and white striped costume to wear too.
Now, Laura is cheered by well-wishers, honked by HGV drivers and waved at by self-isolating OAPs wherever she goes and has even had to turn down gifts of booze from people who have stopped her in the street.
Former presenter Laura, now a stay-at-home mum, said: “As a mum, it is so important to me that I show my daughters that life is still going on, and that something as simple as a smile can mean so much to other people.
“It started as a way to lift our spirits – and if I’ve kept other people spirits up in the meantime too, that is a bonus.
“At first it wasn’t in costume, but while walking around waving at everyone I realised people must be thinking ‘what’s that wally doing?’ so that was the costume I went for.
“Now, people are looking out for us every day and saying hi – we are all getting to know each other.
“When my girls are learning about this time in school in years to come, I want them to be able to say ‘my mum tried so hard to keep people smiling’.”
Before the UK’s official full lockdown began last month, Laura, her daughters and husband Paul had to self-isolate for a week as the family began showing symptoms.
With little Erin disappointed she could no longer attend clubs and groups with her pals, the mum-of-two took to the streets to keep her girls smiling.
At first, the trio went out on their daily walks waving a rainbow flag and singing kids’ disco songs.
But when Laura realised what a ‘wally’ she must look like, she purchased a Where’s Wally costume – and has since become a local celebrity.
She said: “I love people and I love talking to people, so seeing the sense of community has been amazing.
“At such an awful time, an amazing sense of community has developed.
“It’s so important to talk to each other and not suffer in silence.
“I’ve had people message me saying they were feeling low and seeing me cheered them up – I know what it is like to go down that black hole.
“But I say to everyone I see ‘stay safe, keep smiling’ and tell them when all this is over I’m coming back for a real hug.”