Hibernian defender Paul Hanlon, 24, has given eight year old Stephen Boxall the perfect Christmas gift, after he offered to take the young Hibs fan on a personal tour of Hibernian’s East Mains training facilities.
Stuart, father of eight year old Stephen, described his son as “absolutely Hibs daft”, so the Christmas present of a Hibernian 2015 Annual he had lined up was clearly the perfect gift for his son. Coincidentally, Stuart’s partner’s mother, Liz, works in the Gyle shopping, in a store frequented by Hibs defender, Paul Hanlon. So Stuart arranged with Liz to ask the Edinburgh-born defender if he would sign the gift for his son and put the icing on the perfect gift.
When Liz asked the centre back if he would mind signing the annual, he agreed and took it back to East Mains to get the entire Hibs first team to sign it too. Describing events, Stuart said, “Paul [Hanlon] was shopping in the Gyle and Liz was working that day, so she asked if he could sign the annual next time he was in. He told Liz he would take the annual to get signed by the squad and came back a few days later to collect it. He said that he would hand it in within 2 weeks, which he did, and he made sure every player signed it.”
Hanlon’s Christmas spirit didn’t end there, though, making a generous offer when he returned with the fully signed copy. He asked if, as part of his Christmas gift, Stephen would like a personal tour around the training centre with him and to be introduced to the whole Hibs squad.
Stuart was delighted and said, “I know how much this will mean to Stephen – he’s autistic, so he finds it difficult to meet them [the players] after a game due to their being a crowd, he gets terribly shy. I personally think the positive influence from people like Leeann Dempster is a big factor in this, and that Paul is a top man.
“It’s something I will be eternally grateful for.”
Hanlon’s generosity has clearly made Stuart’s Christmas, even before it has made his son’s, which it doubtless will come Christmas morning. He ended by saying that what the defender had done was “probably Stephen’s best present.”
Image: © Duncan Harris (duncanh1, flickr)