A young boy who was facing isolation from other teens due to his unusual hobby got a ton of support from random strangers after his dad put out an appeal on social media.
The 12-year-old boy who is a woodworker from Cumbria, England, loved to make things out of wood from the time he was 4-years-old, according to his dad, film director Richard Clark. Recently the boy who is halfway through the first year in secondary school said he wanted a mountain bike apart from the bike he already owned.
His dad could have easily bought it for him but instead wanted the boy to find a way to earn the money himself. So then Gabriel began – carving bowls and cutting boards for people to buy in early March. His mother helped him by setting up an Instagram page where he could display his creations to the world.
But that didn’t resonate as being cool with his school friends who shunned him due to him having just 6 Instagram followers. “In teen world, that’s not really very cool,” Clark said. “You need to have more than six followers to, in teen world, be cool.” “We have no idea, really, what happened or what went on.”
His parents felt cut up when they saw Gabriel return him one Friday looking upset because of the jokes his friends made about his woodwork and his Instagram followers. Clark said, “I think he was a bit despondent that his passion for woodwork wasn’t seen as particularly cool,” Clark said. That prompted Clark to go on social media and ask his Twitter followers to help out.
He tweeted, “Lovely twitter people – I don’t know how many of you are also #instagram users but I’m looking for a wee favour,” Clark wrote on March 25. “I’ve a 12yr old who loves woodwork. He spends hours on his lathe making bowls and creating chopping boards which he’s sells to save up for a mountain bike.”
Lovely twitter people – I don’t know how many of you are also #instagram users but I’m looking for a wee favour. I’ve a 12yr old who loves woodwork. He spends hours on his lathe making bowls and creating chopping boards which he’s sells to save up for a mountain bike. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/Ny60rFf1TE
— Richard R Clark 🇺🇦 (@rclarkie) March 25, 2022
“So I was wondering if any of you fancied giving him a boost and following him on Instagram at clarkie_woodwork it would make his day,” Clark wrote later. “Thanks in advance and feel free to retweet!” The proud dad felt that if he’d put out a tweet to his followers probably it would help his son get a few more followers on his Instagram.
So I was wondering if any of you fancied giving him a boost and following him on instagram at clarkie_woodwork it would make his day. Thanks in advance and feel free to retweet! 3/3
— Richard R Clark 🇺🇦 (@rclarkie) March 25, 2022
Hoping that Gabriel would at least get 60 followers, it was an astonishment for the family when his Instagram followers went up by the thousands every time they refreshed the page. “I’m not particularly social media savvy,” Clark said. “Any tweet I’ve put out barely gets more than 12 likes if I’m lucky… So I thought 60 was possibly aiming high.”
Gabriel’s Instagram page had 225,000 followers as of Wednesday. “It was astonishing, really,” Clark said. “It was like being caught up in a whirlwind.” He had received “a huge outpouring of affection and support and real, genuine kindness.” The boy also got orders for more than 20,000 bowls and chopping boards.
Well twitter ‘you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off’. I was hoping for 60 followers not 40k! You’re all lovely crazy soppy fools. Serious karma & social media at its best. Haven’t woken his sister to give her the news! 🤬🤯🙏🏼 #woodwork https://t.co/i673bJsShY
— Richard R Clark 🇺🇦 (@rclarkie) March 26, 2022
The boy was feeling the pressure due to these commissions and so Clark and his wife came up with a way for Gabriel to respond to all the attention. “Instead of making 20,000 bowls, he was going to carve one bowl, which he called his ‘Bowl for Ukraine,’” Clark explained. “People have been hugely generous.” The bowl for Ukraine will be given away in a charity raffle at Easter.
But in the meantime, to keep things ticking over, he’s hatched a plan – for every £5k raised he will reveal one of his earlier creations. So now, for the first time in public, feast your eyes on this glorious set balsa wood drums! 🛠️🥁 7/8 #bowlforUkraine
insta: clarkie_woodwork pic.twitter.com/8DAAuetBz3
— Richard R Clark 🇺🇦 (@rclarkie) April 6, 2022
The original goal was just $6,542.57 USD, but it has raised $86,648.55 USD as of Wednesday. Clark said that donations have been coming in from all over the world. Clark wants to make it clear that Gabriel’s story of being teased is a normal thing that happens everywhere. “The teasing comes out of the fact that it’s not cool because you’re standing out,” Clark said.
He added, “The thing is… that’s everywhere. It’s not particular to Gabriel at all or any kid. It’s at every single school around the world.” He said, “It’s just normal stuff,” he added. “If you’re ever on the receiving end, of course, it hurts. Because we’re all vulnerable.”
But all is well that ends well and Clark says that Gabriel will continue pursuing his passion of woodwork, “He’s very content, quietly with his music on, carving bowls or making things. It gives him a sort of deep joy and sort of stillness,” Clark said.