He may be leading the battle against Britain’s biggest crisis since the Second World War, but Boris Johnson still found time yesterday to reply to a seven-year-old girl who wrote to tell him how she had cancelled her birthday party twice due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The letter, signed simply ‘Josephine’, who said she was seven and from Stubbington in Hampshire, went viral online.
In neat, joined-up handwriting, the schoolgirl wrote on her birthday that: ‘I am staying at home because you asked us to. ‘I think mummy and daddy might have to cancel my party but I don’t mind because everybody to be ok.
‘Please keep working hard to keep us all well.’ It ended with a signed blue heart, a ‘wash hands’ reminder and even a cheeky question – ‘Are you remembering to wash your hands?’
Josephine’s letter appeared online a day after all schools in the UK shut their doors until further notice as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was shared hundreds of time on Facebook and Twitter by the Locks Heath Cricket Club even though the full identity and address of the girl are still unknown.
A hashtag #BelikeJosephine was even started, to encourage more responsible behaviour after thousands of people flouted public health guidelines on Friday night to enjoy one last alcohol-fuelled occasion before all pubs shut down.
Despite the other global pressures he is facing, Mr Johnson released a 125-word reply on the crisp headed notepaper of 10 Downing Street.
As well as responding to the primary school girl’s concerns, Mr Johnson also managed to weave in his key public messages that he has been stating at press conferences this week.
In blue ink, the PM told Josephine that he was ‘glad to hear you are staying at home, though I am sorry to hear about your party’.
He added: ‘We have all got to do our bit to protect the NHS and save lives, and that is exactly what you are doing, so well done!
You are setting a great example. ‘We are working round the clock to keep people safe, and if we work together we can send coronavirus packing. And once we have done that you can DEFINITELY have a party with your friends!’
The PM, whose fiancee Carrie Symonds is expecting a baby in the summer, added: ‘In answer to your question – I’m regularly washing my hands with soap and water for 20 seconds: the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice!’
The Prime Minister tweeted the image of his letter, with the caption: ‘Josephine sets a great example to us all by postponing her birthday party until we have sent coronavirus packing.
‘Together we can beat this. In the meantime let’s all wish her happy birthday (twice) whilst washing our hands’.
He added the hashtags#BelikeJosephine and #StayHomeSaveLives. Hundreds of replies were soon flooding in, in response to Mr Johnson’s image, wishing Josephine a happy birthday and sending messages of goodwill.
One person wrote: ‘If everyone followed her fine example we will get rid of this horrible virus in no time’ while another joked to Mr Johnson: ‘Lovely. Though her handwriting is better than yours.’
The Mail on Sunday contacted the Locks Heath for comment.