A mother’s praise for a teenager on his Saturday job – who patiently helped her daughter, who has autism – has reached hundreds of thousands of people on social media, thanks in part to his father’s pride.
James Tayler, from Bicester, Oxfordshire, posted on Twitter he had a very good reason to be “ridiculously” proud of his 18-year-old son, Jacob.
When Jacob finished his Saturday job at a Clarks shoe shop, he was handed a “celebration alert” from the store.
The alert was prompted by an email from a shopper to say Jacob had gone “above and beyond” their expectations back in March, when helping the customer’s daughter.
“I might be a little choked up,” said James in his tweet.
Jacob told BBC News: “I was asked to measure a little girl’s feet.
“I didn’t know she had autism but she wasn’t responding very well.
“She was having sensory overload in the shop environment.”
The customer emailed the company, describing how Jacob had sat patiently while her daughter had cried and had carried on when she had been ready, without any fuss, adding: “He didn’t once make us feel like we were taking too long or being a nuisance.”
More than 90,000 people have “liked” James’s sharing of the story on Twitter on Sunday, including 69,000 in the first day, and retweeted it to thousands more.
It has also been picked up on social media forum Reddit, where the story was upvoted more than 52,000 times within nine hours of being posted.
Among those to see the tweet was Dawn Brown, the customer who had emailed Clarks.
“Everyone loves a little bit of kindness,” she responded to James’s tweet.
“I am so happy that Jacob got his recognition,” Dawn tweeted in a conversation with James.
“Teens today are given bad press, not enough praise.”
“Most people only email/phone to complain these days,” said Dawn.
“I like to go the other way and spread the praise.”
She also joked she would ask Jacob for his autograph when they next bought shoes, to which Jacob said to let him know when so he could be there.
Jacob, who is finishing his A-levels this year, is no stranger to helping children with disabilities.
He has been working with the charity Barnardo’s since he was 16 years old.
James said the work had “taught him a huge amount about autism, sign language and other non-verbal communication”.
“I spend all my holidays working with children of various abilities, I really enjoy it,” said Jacob, who has also picked up the sign language Makaton, which he finds very useful.
This coming summer holiday he plans to work overseas, helping children in need, before he comes back to apply for a firefighter apprenticeship.
“I like to help people and I’m very good at calming people down when they’re stressed,” said Jacob.
However, he may get an opportunity to continue working with children, as Dawn might be in a position to offer him work at a hub for young people with disabilities, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
IT worker James is still bursting with pride and is amazed at the responses he has had on social media.
“My phone hasn’t stopped buzzing since I posted the note,” James told BBC News.
“I thought it would be nice to share good news, amid all the misery at the moment.
“It’s nice to unite people with some positivity.”