Seven-year-old who asked for pen pals after feeling lonely in lockdown receives 120 letters from around the world

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A young boy who was struggling with loneliness during the coronavirus lockdown has received more than a hundred letters from people around the world after making a public plea for a pen pal.

Seven-year-old Harley Glen and his parents moved to Harrogate in North Yorkshire from Edinburgh just before the lockdown began on 21 March.

The pandemic meant that Harley did not get the chance to say goodbye to his friends in Scotland and, because of the school closures, he has not been able to meet any of his new classmates.

After witnessing how upset Harley was, his mother, Ashley, posted a plea on Facebook for other children to get in touch and the family have been overwhelmed with the response.

Harley has so far received 120 replies from people ranging from 18-months to 80-years-old and from all over the world including Australia, America and New Zealand.

Some of the envelopes included gifts for the young boy such as photographs, sunflower seeds, books, hand woven key rings, handmade jewellery, drawings and stamps.

Harley is now trying to write back to all 120 people who took the time to send a letter, including a number of elderly grandparents who contacted him to say they feel lonely too.

“I was completely shocked. Harley was really overwhelmed by them all – when you see them all together there are quite a few,” Ashley said.

“I got hundreds of messages through my Instagram page. We’ve had people from Australia and New Zealand send videos and Harley had a Skype call with a little boy in Osaka, Japan a few days ago.”

As well as communicating online, Ashley asked people to post letters to Harley’s new school, Western Primary School, as she did not want to hand out her home address.

She said: “We went to go pick them up from the school and I originally thought the lady said eight but she actually said 89.

“I was completely shocked when she handed me the bundle. We never expected to receive so many.”

She has also given permission for the school to share her address with parents of children in Harley’s year, so he can start talking to his new classmates before schools reopen.

Speaking about his all of his new found pals, Harley said: “I was happy when I found out people wanted to be my friend.