A little boy left heartbroken when he dropped his toy turtle into the sea has been ‘reunited’ with the beloved stuffed animal thanks to a community effort.
James Farnworth, aged six, was visiting Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, to see family who moved there recently.
He was given a cuddly turtle from the Sea Life Loch Lomond Aquarium by his uncle, but was devastated when he dropped it into the sea while at the pier on June 2 – hours after it was given to him.
A kindhearted fisherman tried to rescue the turtle but the tide swept it further out to sea, where James feared it may be eaten by sharks.
James begged to stay in Scotland with his mum’s twin brother, Stuart Chapman, 39, to wait for the turtle to come back and cried all the way home on the car journey back to York.
Mum-of-two Lynsey, 39, posted a message on a community Facebook page in a bid to track down the lost toy.
She was astonished when a package arrived on the doorstep – containing a cuddly turtle, posted from the aquarium, on June 5.
It also contained a letter reading: “Our rescue mission was successful and we managed to locate the turtle.
“We found the turtle about half a mile from Helensburgh Pier and we think it was trying to reach the shore to find you.”
Lynsey said: “James got a little turtle and fell in love with it instantly, particularly as it was from my brother who we don’t get to see often.
“We then came back to Helensburgh for lunch and for my brother to show us the lovely town but unfortunately James was on the pier and dropped his new turtle into the sea.
“A very nice fisherman tried to hook it but after ten minutes of trying had to give up as it floated further out to sea and all my six-year-old could do was watch it disappear.
“His little heart was breaking thinking of his new best pal in the sea by itself and the prospects of sharks eating it.
“We quickly drove back to the aquarium but it was closed and we had to return to York the next day.”
The family desperately searched toy shops in the seaside town for a replacement and a shop worker suggested posting about it on Facebook in case the tides changed and it washed up on the shore.
Lynsey hoped to order another one from the online shop but James insisted his was special and unlike any of the others.
Older brother Ashton, nine, tried to comfort his sibling by letting him cuddle a toy dolphin also from the sealife centre but it was not much consolation.
Lynsey added: “It calmed him a bit until he got up the next morning and remembered his lost friend.
“We had to drive all the way back to York with one teary little boy as he wanted to stay by himself with his uncle to wait for his lost turtle to come back.
“I never imagined a toy turtle could cause so much drama.”
But James was stunned when a box arrived containing an identical turtle, posted from the Sea Life Loch Lomond Aquarium, who had heard about the saga.
Staff posed the cuddly turtle for pictures showing it drying out and with other sea animals along with a letter to James about the rescue.
James has named it Dude and is desperate to go back to Helensburgh – but Lynsey said next time the toy will be put on a string to keep it safe before visiting the pier.
She added: “If we hadn’t got the turtle back, I was worried Helensburgh would have been a constant reminder of sad memories but now James keeps asking to go back to with his little turtle who he has named Dude, to visit the sea.
“Next time we will keep Dude on a string if we are looking over the pier.
“We were so touched by the spirit of a community desperate to reunite James with his turtle.
“If everywhere was like Helensburgh, the world would be a perfect place.”