When Adam King first appeared on our TV screens on The Late Late Toy Show in 2020, he melted the hearts of the nation. Three years later, he has been on quite the journey and his infectious spirit and genuine warmth is still having a profound impact. Adam lives in the countryside in east Cork with his parents David and Fiona and his four siblings; Danny (15), Katie (12), Robert (11) and Sarah (3). Adam (9) is the second youngest.

With his uncle Conor and his Grandad part-time farming, Adam is a young reader of the Irish Farmers Journal.

Over the last three years he has continued to share his ‘life is an adventure’ motto to inspire, support and empower others, especially children living with additional needs. Since his Toy Show experience, Adam has “been a bit busy with everything going on,” he says. But first, let’s cast our minds back to how Adam’s Virtual Hug started.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, an extremely difficult time for everyone across Ireland that couldn’t hug the people they loved, Adam’s Virtual Hug was a source of light and hope. What started out as a way for Adam to tell his teacher, doctors and nurses that he was sending them a hug turned into a national Irish symbol.

A hug for you

“Me and my mam came up with the idea, when we were doing the homeschooling. I couldn’t go to school so we said we would send my teachers a virtual hug, cut out and coloured with the words “A Hug for You”. Then we decided to laminate it and bring it to hospital because I couldn’t hug my doctors and nurses. When I got accepted to go on the Toy Show we said we’d bring it and then it got really famous and big,” explains Adam.

Adam King at home in East Cork. \ Donal O' Leary

The simple but powerful message has had such an impact, it’s been on An Post postcards and laid the foundation for a series of books. This year Adam partnered with Aldi to launch ‘A Hug for You’ Christmas cards. The cards come in four styles all inspired by his original designs. A portion of the sales from each card sold goes to the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA). “Adam is very happy to support the IWA,” says dad David.

“They are really good to help wheelchair users around Ireland and they do great work,” says Adam.

Adam’s virtual hug had such an effect that it also inspired David to create a book called A Hug for You. Based on true events, it tells the story of one little boy with a big idea that came straight from the heart.

Since being published in 2021, it has become a No 1 bestseller and won the An Post Children’s Book of the Year 2021.

“It was an honour to write it for everybody who embraced his hug but also for Adam himself because he did such a good thing,” says David.

The second book Sir Adam the Brave and the Moody Monsters was published in 2022.

“I think it is going to be really cool that the book is going to go down chimneys and be flying all over the world for Christmas,” says Adam.

They came up with the idea behind the book as a family.

David says, “Whenever I would write drafts of my books, my wife and kids were the first critics. I’d read it to them and ask what pictures they would see in their mind, what they thought of the story, how could it be improved and was I capturing it correctly? In the most recent book, Sir Adam the Brave and the Moody Monsters, I asked them to help me bring it to life. The characters are actually based on the kid’s precious teddies. I said to them if your teddies came alive, how would they move? What would they sound like? What would their personality be like? That helped to develop the characters in the story.”

Adam King with his family at Winterval this November in Waterford

Like the adventures in the book, Adam’s family are also always looking out for accessible adventures and fun.

Being an active family, they like to get out and about a lot. Adam was at Winterval in Waterford at the end of November and cycled the Limerick Greenway in the summer.

Over the last couple of years, Adams Virtual Hug has appeared in a number of places.

“My hug went to space, it’s been on a bridge, it’s been in a book and other crazy places. They made a statue of the hug in Kilkenny along the canal. It was really fun because I had to pull the sheets off the statue to reveal it,” he says.

It has brought Adam on number of different adventures and projects including the Christmas cards and most recently, he has collaborated with Human Collective, a clothing company that features an = symbol on every item to signify support for racial, LGBTQI+ and opportunity equality.

Health matters

While this is all going on though, Adam’s health has to take priority. Taking great ownership over his own medical journey, having a brittle bone condition Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), Adam gave Irish Country Living an update on how he is doing since his most recent surgery in March.

“I was a bit down afterwards, I couldn’t really walk but I made a quick recovery in a few weeks. They had to replace these metal rods in both of my legs that help me walk and then they had to put in new ones,” explains Adam.

Both Adam and David say the staff at Cork University Hospital are fantastic. “I get to meet all the nurses and they are always really nice to me. At Christmas, I dress up as Santa and I give out a bag of sweets,” says Adam.

Adam goes to hospital every Christmas week to get his teeth, bloods, x-rays, and bones checked.

“He gets a special chemical to strengthen his bones twice a year and one of them is normally during Christmas. Fiona tries to line up all of his appointments in one day so he isn’t doing multiple trips to the hospital because Adam doesn’t like to miss school for hospital or other events,” says David.

Like everyone, Adam and his family have their own Christmas traditions.

“I am looking forward to Christmas Eve, because Santa comes down the chimney,” says Adam. Every year, we dress in our pyjamas and go outside and sing carols in the sky to Santa. We also watch The Snowman and Adam Saves Christmas,” a beautiful short animation inspired by Adam and his adventures, which was nominated for various awards and was a ratings topper for RTÉ Christmas viewing in 2022.

Christmas presents

When it comes to presents, Adam is hoping to get some Pokémon cards and a surprise selection of characters for his Toniebox.

“I am asking Santa for crazy forts which is where you can make a den out of these balls with holes, you stick the polls in and put blankets over the top of it. Then you can put a bunch of cushions in there and relax or read or do other fun things,” he explains.

It has been an extremely busy year for Adam and his family but they are looking forward to taking some time off and relaxing.

“At Christmas time, we really like to down tools and enjoy each other’s company as a family. We look forward to the new year and whatever that brings,” says David.

It is hard to keep up with the number of extracurricular activities Adam takes part in. During the winter Adam likes to train with his mum and dad for Para Athletics. “I also do tennis in Youghal and play ukelele as part of Comhaltas Eochaill. At the moment, I’m preparing for a Christmas concert,” he says.

If that wasn’t enough, Adam has also been doing dance since he was three years old in the Sinéad Sheppard School of Dance and does shows every year in Cork Opera House.

For anyone looking to chase their dreams and reach for the stars, Adam offers the following advice to our young readers.

“I would say to them, believe in themselves, reach high and be kind,” says Adam.

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