A CARING community wasn’t going to let coronavirus put a stop to one youngster’s birthday bash – and brought the party to him instead.

For his eleventh birthday, all William Southward wanted was his break away to Haven Holidays to see his favourite mascot, Bradley Bear of the Seaside Squad.

Haven-obsessed William has Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism, and was heartbroken his annual trip was cancelled, struggling to understand why.

But hearing of the spoilt plans, a thoughtful team came to the Mirehouse boy’s rescue – in the form of a very big bear and nearly 100 birthday cards.

After seeing William’s mum, Emma Southward, appealing for birthday cards to be sent in place of his special trip, the Mirehouse Residents and Community Centre Group stepped in, giving the delighted Seaside Squad fan a birthday to remember.

“The wee fella couldn’t go to Haven, so we wanted to bring Haven to him,” Charlie McGregor, of the group, said.

“We had Tony [Pearce] from the group playing the theme music, and William’s dad in the bear costume, and he was so happy.

“It went down a treat, and that’s all we were looking for – the wee lad’s birthday was something really special.”

After his socially-distanced disco was complete, all the cake had been eaten and dad Stephen had transformed into a human again, the family sat down to open William’s 90 birthday cards, which had all been sent from friends, family, neighbours and strangers across the estate.

And Emma couldn’t have been more touched, sharing a heartfelt thank you to all for making her adored son so happy on his special day.

"We couldn't have wished for anything better than the bear turning up and a disco," she said. "He was absolutely thrilled!

"I'd like to thank Mirehouse Residents Group and Community Centre for all they do for Mirehouse. They're an amazing group of people."

With William’s beloved mascot proving such a hit, the marvellous mascot will be sticking around to keep every single youngster smiling – being officially named Myrus the Bear.

Charlie said: “We’re keeping him around for anyone to use.

“If people are having a birthday party he can be sent along to entertain the kids, and at Christmas when the float comes around, they can all get pictures and talk to Myrus the Bear while waiting for Father Christmas to arrive.

“It’s about keeping morale up, and keeping community spirit up for everybody out there, even when Covid has passed.”

He added: “Hopefully William can go to Haven again for his birthday next year, but if not, he can have Myrus the Bear any time he wants!”