A VIDEO of neighbours singing Happy Birthday to the eight-year-old daughter of A&T business development manager Alison Thomas has become an online sensation.
More than 600,000 people across the world have viewed the clip, and Alison and her husband Rob have featured on TV and radio shows as far afield as Japan and Australia.
BBC Radio DJ Zoe Ball played the clip to millions of listeners on her show Thursday morning, and ITV’s This Morning also featured it.
“It’s been insane – absolutely crazy,” Alison said. “Both me and Rob had no idea it would be this well received.
“There’s been a lot of comments online, such as ‘This is what I need in my life right now’ so if it’s helped people feel better then that’s great.”
Alison is self-isolating with the family at their home in Southampton and was forced to cancel a party she had lined up for Sophia, as well as a trip to the cinema.
“It can be quite a big birthday being eight as children by then have realised what birthdays are about, and she was a little bit down so we thought doing something would cheer her up,” Alison said.
Alison’s father is unwell and her mother is in a care home so to boost them as well, she hit upon the idea of creating a video of her daughter being sung Happy Birthday.
Her neighbours have started a Whatsapp group to help some of the elder residents who are vulnerable or isolating, and when they learnt of Alison’s idea they enthusiastically suggested they get in on the act and all sing Sophia the song at a pre-arranged time.
Alison said: “It got to about 10am and I said to Sophia ‘let’s go out in the sunshine’ – she had no idea – and the next thing all of the neighbours appeared at their windows and started singing, and she was looking round thinking ‘what’s going on?’!
“She was overwhelmed, and I think a little bit embarrassed as all the attention was on her, but she was also quite speechless.”
After sharing the video with friends online they urged Alison to make it public and within hours it attracted thousands of views.
Her husband also shared it on Twitter and alerted BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James, who liked it. As momentum gathered news outlets from near and afar contacted her asking for the story behind it, including the Tokyo News Agency and ABC in Australia.
Sophia also appeared live on Radio Solent for a short interview, as did Rob.
“As a parent you’re always a little bit nervous about what might be said but Sophia and Rob both came across really well and I think the overall highlight has been appearing on Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 show,” Alison said.
“I said to my neighbour Kev – who you can hear in the video singing pretty loudly – I bet you never thought you’d hear yourself singing on Radio 2!”