A recovered homeless, drug addict finally got to thank the Banbury boy he says ‘saved his life’ after his online appeal swept the nation.
Ben Hornsby marked being clean for two years on New Year’s Day by sharing his story on Facebook and appealing to find a boy who inspired him to get help.
After sharing his story with the Banbury Guardian and news outlets across the country, the 36-year-old was contacted by Samantha Wasilewski who believed her son, Emmanuel Iqbal, was the boy.
They exchanged messages, compared photos and once they were certain, the pair were reunited on The Jeremy Kyle Show last week.
Ben said: “I never thought I would actually meet him to be honest. I did the post to celebrate being two years clean and I wanted to make it powerful by talking about how the boy helped me. I was not expecting to find the lad – it was all quite overwhelming.”
Ben was begging outside the shops on Middleton Road in Banbury in 2015 but was motivated to get help and give up drugs and alcohol after a young boy gave him some change.
He wanted to thank the boy for giving him the push he needed, hence the appeal which featured on the BG’s front page last month.
Samantha heard about Ben’s appeal and said she initially thought nothing of it, but she soon realised it could have been Emmanuel.
Ben said Samantha recalled the day perfectly and after seeing a photo of the nine-year-old, he was sure.
Reunited at the studios in Manchester, Ben gave Emmanuel his prized keyring for being sober for two years from Narcotics Anonymous.
“I was a little bit speechless, I found it hard to get the right words but I said thank you and gave him the keyring.
“I said it probably doesn’t mean much now but it means a lot to me as it’s the last keyring you get after two years of being sober.
“I never thought I would get two years clean and I said I would probably be dead if he hadn’t come that day.”
Samantha wished Ben all the best for the future and said it was lovely to see how a small act of kindness can change someone’s life.
“You can do good acts but you don’t often see the result so it’s come full circle and proved to Emmanuel what a big difference you can make to someone’s life,” she said.
The Jeremy Kyle Show episode is due to be aired on Mother’s Day (March 11).