12-year-old woodworker receives 'outpouring' of kindness after dad asks Twitter for support

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A 12-year-old woodworker who was teased at school for his hobby has gone viral after his dad reached out to social media for support.

Gabriel Clark, 12, from Cumbria, England, has been crafting things from wood since he was 4 years old, his father, film director Richard Clark, told Fox News Digital. 

Recently, Gabriel, who is halfway through his first year in secondary school, has wanted a mountain bike in addition to the bicycle he already has. 

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Richard Clark told Fox News Digital that he told Gabriel he would have to figure out a way to earn the money for the mountain bike himself.

Gabriel Clark, 12, from Cumbria, England, recently went viral after some kids at school teased him about his passion for woodwork – and his lack of Instagram followers. In response, his dad asked people on Twitter to follow Gabriel on Instagram and 225,000 people obliged.

Gabriel Clark, 12, from Cumbria, England, recently went viral after some kids at school teased him about his passion for woodwork – and his lack of Instagram followers. In response, his dad asked people on Twitter to follow Gabriel on Instagram and 225,000 people obliged.
(Richard Clark)

Gabriel turned to woodwork – carving bowls and cutting boards to sell. In early March, Clark’s wife helped Gabriel set up an Instagram page to show off his craftsmanship.

Woodwork not seen as ‘particularly cool’

However, Clark said that the kids at Gabriel’s school weren’t impressed with Gabriel’s hobby or his six followers – who were mostly relatives.

“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.”

Last month, Gabriel came home one Friday “a bit despondent” because the kids at school were taking “the mickey out of him” for 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.

Gabriel has been crafting things out of wood since he was 4 years old, his dad, Richard Clark, told Fox News Digital.

Gabriel has been crafting things out of wood since he was 4 years old, his dad, Richard Clark, told Fox News Digital.
(Richard Clark)

That day, Clark took action and asked his Twitter followers for help. 

“Lovely twitter people – I don’t know how many of you are also #instagram users but I’m looking for a wee favour,” Clark tweeted 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.”

“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 in a follow-up tweet. “Thanks in advance and feel free to retweet!”

Clark told Fox News Digital: “I thought I’d sort of put out a tweet and see if we could get him a few more followers for his Instagram account.”

Going viral: ‘Like being caught up in a whirlwind’

Clark hoped Gabriel would get 60 followers, which Richard said seems to be “a kind of magic number” of Instagram followers for teenagers.

“His Instagram followers were going up by the thousands every time we 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.”

It didn’t take long for Gabriel’s followers to far surpass that “magic number.”

“Within an hour, it just started going kind of nuts,” Clark said. “His Instagram followers were going up by the thousands every time we refreshed the page.”

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“We have no idea, really, what happened or what went on,” Clark added. “I think by Saturday morning, it was over 30,000. And by the time things settled a little bit on Monday morning, it was over 220,000 followers.”

As of Wednesday, Gabriel’s Instagram account has 225,000 followers.

“It was astonishing, really,” Clark said. “It was like being caught up in a whirlwind.”

Recently, Gabriel has been making and selling bowls and cutting boards so he can save up for a mountain bike. 

Recently, Gabriel has been making and selling bowls and cutting boards so he can save up for a mountain bike. 
(Richard Clark)

Clark said Gabriel has received “a huge outpouring of affection and support and real, genuine kindness.”

“Gabriel took a lot from that,” he added. “But also, it resulted in over 20,000 commissions for bowls and chopping boards, which did worry him a little bit.”

Paying it forward

Clark said he and his wife have been trying to protect Gabriel from feeling “pressure,” so they tried to come up with a way for Gabriel to respond to all the attention. 

Since Gabriel went viral, Richard said he's received more than 20,000 commissions for bowls and cutting boards.

Since Gabriel went viral, Richard said he’s received more than 20,000 commissions for bowls and cutting boards.
(Richard Clark)

“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.”

Gabriel will be giving the bowl away in a charity raffle at Easter. 

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To enter the raffle, people have to donate to a Just Giving page set up by the Clarks. The funds donated through the page go directly to the U.K.-based charity Save the Children, specifically the organization’s Ukraine Appeal, Clark said.

Instead of responding to all the requests he's received, Gabriel made this bowl, which he's calling his "Bowl for Ukraine." He'll be giving the bowl away in a charity raffle at Easter. All funds raised will go to Save the Children's Ukraine Appeal.

Instead of responding to all the requests he’s received, Gabriel made this bowl, which he’s calling his “Bowl for Ukraine.” He’ll be giving the bowl away in a charity raffle at Easter. All funds raised will go to Save the Children’s Ukraine Appeal.
(Richard Clark)

“It was Gabriel’s way of trying to give something to kids that really, really do need it,” Clark said.

Though Gabriel’s original goal for the Just Giving page was just £5,000 ($6,542.57 USD), the page has raised £66,219 ($86,648.55 USD) as of Wednesday. 

Donations have been coming in from all over the world, according to Clark.

“People have been hugely generous,” Clark said. “We’re hugely grateful for people dipping in and trying to support.”

What’s next?

Now that Gabriel has gone viral, Clark said he wants to be clear that Gabriel’s story of being teased isn’t “remarkable.”

“The teasing comes out of the fact that it’s not cool because you’re standing out,” Clark said. “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.”

“It’s just normal stuff,” he added. “If you’re ever on the receiving end, of course, it hurts. Because we’re all vulnerable.”

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In Gabriel’s case, his passion for woodwork wasn’t deemed as “cool” by his peers, Clark said. 

“He’s got a real passion for woodwork and making things and I think when you’re that sort of age, you know, sport is cool… but woodwork probably doesn’t have quite the same cachet,” Clark said. “It’s not something you see competitively on TV, for instance.”

When the charity raffle is over and things settle down, Clark said he and Gabriel will have to figure out the actual cost of a bowl so they can move onto raising funds for the mountain bike.

"We’re navigating uncharted waters at the moment," Richard said. "Trying to figure out which way is up and how to move forward."

“We’re navigating uncharted waters at the moment,” Richard said. “Trying to figure out which way is up and how to move forward.”
(Richard Clark)

One of Gabriel's cutting boards is pictured.

One of Gabriel’s cutting boards is pictured.
(Richard Clark)

Clark said that regardless, Gabriel will still be left with his “real, genuine talent” and his passion for 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.

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