A three-year-old girl has been reunited with her favourite cuddly toy – after a mammoth international rescue mission.
Little Penny Mitchell was left heartbroken after losing her stuffed owl, called Ratty Roo Roo, while shopping with her family in Italy.
But thanks to Facebook, a travel agent, an Italian tourism department, a greengrocer, hotel concierge and another holidaying couple, the pair are back together again, much to the youngster’s delight.
Mum Laura, 34, said: “The fact they have worked so hard, gone over and above, and taken so much care to get a toddler’s precious toy back to her means so much to us.
“It’s kindness we won’t forget in a world where you hear so many horror stories.”
Laura, Penny, and their husband and father James, 35, were abroad for a friend’s wedding when they decided to take a sight-seeing trip to nearby Bellagio, a commune in the Lombardy region.
After eating lunch, they travelled back to their hotel, when they realised Ratty Roo Roo was gone.
“We did go back that night to have a look for him but we couldn’t find him,” Laura, a Forever Living seller from Delany Drive in Freckleton, said.
“I told Penny he had to go home and look after the house because the Big Bad Wolf was going to be there. She was alright with that.”
After arriving home last Tuesday, Laura and James, a manager at Ribby Hall, sneaked an identical owl onto the door-step.
But Penny wasn’t fooled.
“She just looked at him and said, that’s not Ratty Roo Roo,” Laura said.
“She was distraught.”
Laura posted about Penny’s heartbreak on Facebook, which was seen by her friend Nicki Scott, a travel agent with contacts in the country.
She shared the message with Bellagio’s tourist information page, and quickly got word Ratty Roo Roo had been found in a greengrocer’s shop.
The well-travelled owl was picked up by a hotel concierge and dropped off with a Preston family holidaying half-an-hour away.
They brought Ratty Roo Roo home, and Laura picked him up ahead of an emotional reunion caught on camera.
“Penny had not had him for over a week and every so often she had cried for him, saying she wanted him,” Laura said.
“She has been talking to him since, saying he has been on holiday in Italy, but she keeps saying she will never let him go again.
“It was emotional, there were a couple of tears!
“We’re so grateful.”