Touching birthday cake gesture leads to This Morning TV appearance for two NI families

Lea, Shannon, Akeelah, Gareth and Kirsty met for the first time on the This Morning sofa
Lea, Shannon, Akeelah, Gareth and Kirsty met for the first time on the This Morning sofa
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A Co Down man appeared on national television in the UK today after a story about his touching gesture involving a child’s birthday cake went viral.

As revealed last Tuesday by the News Letter, Banbridge man Gareth Bronte was the ‘mystery gentleman’ who had paid for a stranger’s birthday cake in memory of his daughter Hannah who did not make it to her first birthday.

Gareth and Kirsty meet Lea and her family for the first time in the This Morning studio

Gareth and Kirsty meet Lea and her family for the first time in the This Morning studio

His kind gesture was first brought to light when Lea Ni Bhriain, who had ordered the Peppa Pig cake for her one-year-old niece Akeelah from the Windsor Home Bakery in Banbridge, arrived to pay for it only to find someone had beaten them to it.

She started a search on Facebook for the man who left a card signed ‘Hannah’s Daddy’ and “left the whole bakery in tears”.

Gareth’s identity was revealed in a News Letter article and the story was picked up by This Morning who invited him and his wife Kirsty to appear on the show this morning.

Lea also appeared on the show along with her sister Shannon and niece Akeelah, who slept soundly throughout the interview.

Gareth Bronte on This Morning

Gareth Bronte on This Morning

It was to be the first time the family had met Gareth and his wife Kirsty in the flesh.

It made for an emotional segment on the show as presenters Phil Scholfield and Holly Willoughby introduced the story which was captioned ‘A Random ‘Slice’ Of Birthday Kindness’.

Lea explained to Phil and Holly how she had been spurred on by Gareth’s kindness to carry on the good gesture: “I know it wasn’t absolutely the same circumstances, but I just thought I wanted to do a good gesture for somebody else so I paid off the same amount that he’d paid off our cake onto someone else’s. It carries on the story as well.”

Gareth and his wife Kirsty, who live between Loughbrickland and Rathfriland on the outskirts of Banbridge, were then introduced.

Lea Ni Bhriain on This Morning

Lea Ni Bhriain on This Morning

Their daughter Hannah Stella Bronte was born prematurely on September 10, 2018 weighing just two pounds, five and half ounces. Their baby girl lost her brave fight for life after eight days in ICU.

Gareth told the show: “In the lead up to what would have been Hannah’s birthday my wife and I wanted to do something to mark it. Our little boy Caleb, who is four, came up with the idea of letting a helium balloon go so that it would make its way up to heaven. That was something we had planned.

“I’d said to Kirsty I wanted to do something different, maybe a little random act of kindness to share a little joy.

“Kirsty thought I was maybe a little bit mad to go into a bakery and pay for a cake, they might throw me out.”

Kirsty and Gareth with Akeelah backstage in the This Morning studio

Kirsty and Gareth with Akeelah backstage in the This Morning studio

He added: “It was pretty hard writing that little card knowing that I wasn’t going to get to ever buy a birthday cake for my daughter or see her first day at school or walk her down the aisle.”

Holly commented: “It was a lovely this to do, it really was.”

Phil said: “I’m glad that we could put you all together.”

After the show Gareth said: “It was a weird experience. We were contacted by the show on Sunday and the next morning we were on the This Morning sofa.

“We had so much more we wanted to say but it was tight for time but so nice to continue to be able to talk about Hannah. It was lovely to meet Akeelah, Lea and Shannon too.”

Last week Gareth and Kirsty presented a cheque to the neo-natal unit for £28,175.15 raised during a series of 10K walks the couple did in May in memory of Hannah.