To celebrate International Friendship Day on Saturday 30th July 2022, global toy company Mattel today proudly announced the winners of the inaugural ‘Thomas & Friends International Friendship Day Awards™’. Five young winners aged between 4 and 8 were selected from hundreds of entrants across the UK and presented with their awards by musician and celebrity dad, Aston Merrygold.

The winners have demonstrated outstanding friendship, demonstrating kindness, putting others first, and going above and beyond to help a friend.

Aston Merrygold said: “I feel very privileged to have been able to host the inaugural Thomas & Friends International Friendship Day Awards and to meet and give some of these very special children their trophies. Hearing their stories today has made it feel very special, because all these children have done amazing things of their own accord – they’ve literally gone above and beyond for other people, and it’s all been their own doing.”

Without further ado, we are proud to announce the winners…

Noah aged 4 from Dudley, West Midlands

Noah has been best friends with Dylan since they were babies, born two days apart. Dylan was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was very little, and ever since, Noah has been by his side, even when he receives treatment. Throughout lockdown, Noah would visit Dylan and draw on the windows to bring a smile to his face, and now they play together every day.

Imogen aged 6 from Bridgend, South Wales

Imogen met her friend Ethan at playgroup. Ethan has autism and is non-verbal, yet even at such a young age of 2, Imogen would always try her best to include Ethan in playgroup activities and play with him. Imogen was clearly very special to Ethan and the first time he ever interacted with another child was when he went up and hugged Imogen. Now both age 6, Imogen and Ethan are still great friends. Imogen will play with Ethan and does the things he enjoys, making sure he feels included. People often comment on their great friendship. Imogen always makes sure places are safe for Ethan and looks out for him.

Grace aged 5 from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

When a Ukrainian refugee family recently moved to Grace’s small town, Grace quickly made friends with a 5-year-old Ukrainian girl called Amelia who started in her school. Grace quickly made Amelia feel so welcome, became her friend, and Grace has even learnt some Ukrainian to be able to talk to Amelia and make her feel at home.

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Millie aged 8 from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

Millie was nominated by her teacher as she observed a very special friendship and bond between Millie and one of her classmates who has Down’s syndrome. Millie went above and beyond to help her friend, learning Makaton to be able to communicate with them. She always shows so much kindness and patience and is very caring towards her friend, from helping with schoolwork to interacting with others on their behalf when it is helpful. Her teacher described Millie’s friendship with them as selfless, and that Millie is a very special and remarkable girl who recognises the challenges that her friend faces and wants to help respectfully in any way that she can.

Corey aged 8 from Stourport, Worcestershire

When Corey noticed that children in his school were going hungry as parents couldn’t always afford food, he decided to fundraise for the local community food bank by doing a 10-mile sponsored walk. Corey raised an amazing £920 which was used to help the community centre get food to people in need.

An honour for Thomas & Friends

Claudia Caron, UK Marketing Manager, Mattel UK, said: “It is very special and such an honour for the Thomas & Friends brand to be able to recognise these outstanding acts of friendship by young children from all around the UK. The first ever Thomas & Friends™ International Friendship Day Awards have truly shown how incredible and remarkable children are, with hundreds of entries all demonstrating real kindness, putting others first and children going above and beyond for their friends. We’re really proud to share the stories of our five winners to celebrate such great acts of friendship.”

Aston Merrygold and Sir Topham Hatt host Thomas & Friends: International Friendship Day, pictured at Soho Hotel, London, Jul 16 2022.

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