THERE were smiles all round as a boy with special needs whose much-loved ferrets were stolen from his home had them replaced by a kind-hearted reader.

Stuart Bowes, 11, was featured in today’s (Tuesday, July 9) The Northern Echo after a mother ferret and her five babies, or kits, were taken from the family home’s backyard.

Stuart has a sensory processing disorder and also struggles to deal with sudden change and was left heartbroken when the creatures were snatched from his Stockton home at the weekend.

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His story touched Craig Jenkins, who works at Newham Grange Leisure Farm at Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, and the animal-lover cleared it for the farm to replace the ferrets.

When Mr Jenkins handed them over Stuart and his older brother, Martin, 14, broke into big smiles.

Their mother, Donna Bowes, said: “I’ve never seen Stuart grin so much. It’s very rare for him to smile at all and you can just see the joy on his face.”

She explained that Stuart had struggled to understand that ferrets had gone and had kept going back to see them.

Martin, who actually does much of the work to look after the creatures, promised Mr Jenkins he would look after them properly.

Another kind-hearted reader, Johnny Robb of Newton Aycliffe, also rang to say he would replace the ferrets, but Mr Jenkins had already called.

The stolen ferrets were taken, along with a BMX and silver mountain bike, and a rabbit cage, from Hertford Road, Norton, Stockton, between 11pm and 2am over night Friday, July 7 and 8. 

Anyone with information should call Cleveland Police on 101.