Christmas present from 1966 arrives at last: Subbuteo creates special edition for brother of tragic Hartlepool boy

Ray Trench with his Subbuteo set. Picture by FRANK REID

Ray Trench with his Subbuteo set. Picture by FRANK REID

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A boy whose letter to Santa ‘melted the hearts’ of people around the world has finally had his wishes granted – almost 50 years after his tragic death.

The Christmas 1966 wishlist of Paul Trench, who died after a viral infection of the blood in February 1967, was uncovered by brother Ray, from Greatham, last year.

Ray Trench with his Subbuteo set. Picture by FRANK REID

Ray Trench with his Subbuteo set. Picture by FRANK REID

It was tucked away in a children’s encyclopaedia, and detailed Paul’s wishes for Christmas, which included a Subbuteo game featuring the players of England and Argentina.

After the story reached the creators of Subbuteo, they decided to make a personalised edition of the game dedicated to the memory of Paul, whose picture was included on the box.

In it were team sets Paul asked for, including the Argentina side of 1966, which was personally donated by the brand manager of Eleven Force, the company behind Subbuteo.

The Subbuteo set was presented as a surprise to Ray, 65, who was left ‘utterly staggered’ by the generosity.

When I saw that it was personalised, words just can’t describe how I felt. I’m utterly staggered

Ray Trench

He said: “It is such a lovely thing to receive, and I’ve been very moved by it all.

“When I saw that it was personalised, words just can’t describe how I felt. I’m utterly staggered.

“I just can’t believe that something that happened all of those years ago has touched so many people now.

“I’m very, very grateful to the brand manager and the team which took the time to create and present this beautiful piece. It will become a family memento.”

The letter to Santa from Paul Trench was found by his brother Ray.

The letter to Santa from Paul Trench was found by his brother Ray.

The set Ray received is one of only two of its kind in existence, with the other kept for Subbuteo’s archives.

It is titled ‘Paul Trench’s edition’, and in the box presented to Ray was a letter from the company explaining why Paul will ‘forever remain in their hearts’.

The brand manager of Eleven Force, based in Spain, is Jose Guerrero, who donated his own Argentina 1966 set.

Father-of-three and grandfather-of-two Ray, of Front Street, now hopes the tailor-made set will become a family memento which will be passed onto grandson Sam, three.

Paul Trench died at the age of nine in 1967.

Paul Trench died at the age of nine in 1967.

The retired deputy headteacher added: “The brand manager actually donated his personal Argentina team, which is an incredible gesture.

“He just said that when they came across the story, they felt they should do something as it melted the hearts of the people there.

“It’s absolutely staggeringly surprising for this to be presented, but it shows that in this world when everything seems to revolve around money, there are companies and people who really do have a heart.

“This is a wonderful thing, and I just want to say thank you so much.

“This is something that I know we as a family will treasure, and I hope it will be passed down.”