Grandparents who hadn’t hugged their grandsons since March shared a loving embrace, thanks to a bright idea to use inflatable polar bear costumes.
Barbara and Clive Walshaw said the heartwarming hug was the “best six minutes” they had all year.
They got to hold their three grandkids Quinn, six, Morgan, eight, and Mackenzie, 14, for the first time since March 1, after surprising them with the costumes.
The couple had been self-isolating and Barbara said it was heartbreaking for the children when they were told they couldn’t nip round to see them for Christmas.
They had originally planned to spend Christmas “together” on a Zoom call with a laptop at the end of the dinner table.
But the ingenious grandmother stumbled upon the inflatable polar bears while Christmas shopping online and realized she had found a way to hug her beloved grandchildren safely, on December 25.
She said it was the “best £15 she’d ever spent” as it brought so much joy and a “pure Christmas spirit”.
The couple, who are in their 70s, snuck up to their grandchildren’s home in Kirkstall, Leeds, and hugged it out while protected by the 6-foot costumes.
“It was really hard on all of the boys,” says Barbara. “We normally spend Christmas day with them and we wondered what we were going to do with all that’s been going on.”
The tight-knit family normally spend two to three days every week together, with a spare room for the boys to stay overnight.
“The costumes worked really well. Totally enclosed. It was the best idea I’ve ever had I think.”
“The younger boy was a bit overawed by these massive polar bears, but when he realized it was us it was so lovely. So many cuddles. It was amazing.”
“Everyone was so happy in those six minutes. And we laughed and cried. I loved it.”
At around noon on Christmas Day, Neil Walshaw, 45, and his wife Hazel, told their three boys that they’d heard a rumor that there were polar bear sightings in Kirkstall.
When they walked out they spotted their grandparents bouncing over hysterically in the massive costumes.
His youngest son Quinn was so shocked when he saw nana and grandpa walk up to their home that he sprinted back into the house and out again “to make sure it was real”.
Neil, said it was the best hug his boys ever had, and a memory they would “never forget”.
“They are the best grandparents in Leeds. They’re simply fantastic.”