By Hayley Pugh
A little boy who misses his dad so much he would cry himself to sleep has found comfort in a special doll which looks just like his RAF hero daddy.
Like most children, three-year-old Mason Armstrong’s hero is his daddy but working in the RAF means Mason often has to go months on end without seeing his father, Lewis, 28.
The adorable toddler used to struggle when his corporal dad, an avionics engineer, was away – often crying and worrying that he wouldn’t see him again.
Now, thanks to a special doll which looks exactly like Lewis, Mason is able to give his daddy a kiss and a cuddle whenever he wants and a heart-warming video showing Mason opening his new toy on Christmas Eve, while visiting family in Wales, has attracted more than 83,000 views online.
Since receiving his present, the youngster from Carterton, Oxfordshire, has become so attached to the cuddly toy he takes it everywhere with him and sleeps next to it every night.
Mason’s mum, Lydia Armstrong, 29, said: “My husband has been going away for three to four months every year since Mason was born.
“He was obviously quite young before but now he is getting older he has an understanding of what’s going on.
“He was finding it really difficult, getting upset going to school and at bedtime, worrying that daddy wasn’t coming home.
“A friend of mine recommended Huggable Heroes so I got in touch with them and got my husband to pose up for a few pictures.
“Lewis was deployed to the Falklands for three months over Christmas. So I decided to give Mason his ‘little daddy’ as he now calls him on Christmas Eve.
“He absolutely adores it. It goes everywhere with him.
“He takes it too and from school, it sits at the table with us when we eat, it goes to the shop with us and he takes it to bed with him.
“Even the staff in the post office comment on it now.”
The special doll was created by Huggable Heroes – a company based in Norfolk, which lovingly hand makes each cuddly toy to order.
The ‘heroes’ feature a picture of the child’s loved one and are the perfect size for youngsters to carry around with them.
Mum-of-two, Jo Lomax, first launched Huggable Heroes in 2015 after making one of the dolls for a friend’s little girl whose father was about to be deployed for six months.
She then went on to make one for her own children, three-year-old Henry and five-year-old Charlotte and realised how much they helped with separation anxiety from their own Royal Marine dad, Mikey.
The 33-year-old runs the business from her mum’s kitchen in Swaffham alongside her mum, nan and aunt.
The company create little heroes for all sorts of families including those in the armed forces, children who live far away from grandparents and other relatives, children separated by illness and hospital stays and families coming to terms with the death of a loved one.
Jo said: “Seeing the reaction from children and their families is amazing. It makes me really emotional to the point of crying most days.
“I just know how much it helped my children with their separation anxiety and their relationship with their dad. So to be able to do the same for other families is just amazing.”
For more information about Huggable Heroes please visit Huggable Heroes website.