A SEVEN-year-old girl is preparing to open the latest of 14 years’ worth of Christmas presents pre-bought by her elderly neighbour before he died of cancer.
Today Cadi Williams will today open her sixth mystery present from Ken Watson, who was 87 when he died in 2018.
Cadi opening her presents from kindly neighbour Ken Watson[/caption]
He left 14 presents to open after his death[/caption]
Kind hearted Ken Watson had lived next door[/caption]
Ken lived near her parents Owen and Caroline Williams, in Barry,, for the last two years of his life, and befriended Cadi.
When he died Ken’s daughter Jenny surprised the parents by delivering a sack full of 14 presents for Cadi, then two, from Ken, which she found in his home.
The family were “knocked off their feet” by his generosity – which he had kept secret from everyone.
Owen, 45, managing director of a social media agency, said: “It was confounding, magical, ridiculous and heart-warming.
“It was the feeling that gets you in the throat – when your brain is processing quicker than your heart can take it.”
He and Caroline, 39, an assistant head teacher, keep the box of presents from Ken in their attic.
They are all individually wrapped so each present opening is a surprise.
Owen added: “We tell Cadi about how on a dark night in December her neighbour passed away.
“She doesn’t really remember him, but you can always keep someone’s memory alive by telling stories.
“There’s something about a kindly neighbour who put away these gifts for her which is quite powerful. There isn’t an ulterior motive.
“People get too up in arms about people doing things for other people especially when there’s children involved.
“It’s good to open you mind and your heart and think sometimes good things will happen and that’s all there is to it.”
He added: “What’s sweet is seeing my daughters development as well. She’s gone from being a toddler when this started and now she’s seven. Its like a record of her growing up.”
The family couldn’t wait till Christmas to open the first present from Ken in 2018.
So they immediately opened it – a book called ‘Christmas Eve at the Mellops’, by Tomi Ungerer.
Cadi later unwrapped a cuddly goat on Christmas the same year and in 2019 she received a train set spelling ‘Cadi’.
In 2020 she opened a giant Crayola colouring book and the following year she got a book, ‘Ghostly Beasts’ by Joan Aiken.
Last Christmas she received the three-book collection of the ‘What Katy Did’ series by Susan Coolidge.
“Cadi reads like reading is going out of fashion,” Owen said.
He uses #BeMoreKen in his annual Twitter post revealing Cadi’s gift, to encourage others to be kind for the sake of being kind, and to get to know their .
“People are looking for some comfort at Christmas and the reaction has been warm,” he said.
“It feels like a Richard Grant film. You get a small group of people who think it’s really weird but I can only assume they have no love in their life.
“It will remain a tradition and it’s a digital tradition now. Humanity has an ability to be very warm and loving but also completely cynical.
“Ken was just one of those people that others adored. He was like a Father Christmas figure.
“He didn’t have grandchildren and he missed his wife dreadfully. She had passed away ten years prior to us moving in.
“I think there was a gap in his life. He yearned for human connection.”
Ken was known to his neighbours for being a generous, fatherly figure.
For her first birthday, Ken gifted Cadi a giant cuddly Lion called Elvis, and he went on to buy them for every child on the street – costing £20 a pop.
Owen said: “I went into a lovely local toy shop called Giggles and I happened to mention to the owner that our neighbour had bought Cadi one of the lions for her birthday.
“She replied ‘was it Ken?’ “She then told me he came in after seeing them in the window and decided to buy them for all the children in the street.”
Ken was an accomplished man, surprising Owen with tales of his past adventures.
He said “He had done a wing walk for charity – he was a daredevil in his day. One of his jobs was as a salvage diver. He was also a master baker for a while, owned a bakery and he baked his own wedding cake.
“He played the accordion. You could hear his oompah music through the walls. He was a carpenter and he had a workshop.
“The first time I met him in 2015 he was on a ladder in blue overalls bouncing his ladder across the front of his house rather than coming down and moving it across.
“I looked at my neighbour and mouthed the words of ‘what the heck.’”
“I took a bottle of wine round the houses and said hello to all my neighbours. It costs nothing to be .
“I maintain that it’s important to get to know your neighbours. If you were desperate for milk for the baby or its late and you needed something you would go to them.”
Owen and Caroline Williams with their daughter Cadi[/caption]