Bradford man with Down's syndrome

A BRADFORD man with Down’s syndrome who suffered a spate of online bullying has thanked a group of truck drivers, who “accepted him for who he is”, and even went the extra mile in paying him a special visit. Joshua Dunne, from Clayton, was targeted by trolls on the video-sharing app, TikTok, causing him so much distress that it would often reduce him to tears. A group of truck drivers, from across the UK, who also use the platform – one of them being a driver for Shipley Transport Services – saw the bullying and decided to take a stand.

The TikTok truckers started a hashtag, #joshiesarmy, and posted videos to show their support for Joshua, before, on 28 June, they surprised him with a visit. Mick Holmes, of Shipley Transport Services, arrived outside Joshua’s house in his truck, with the other truckers – some of whom had travelled from as far afield as Stafford, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire – close by in their cars. Joshua was given a ride in the truck, which he says made him feel “happy and excited.”

“They brought the truck and surprised me. They let me sit in the passenger seat and play music”, he said. “They made me laugh and they looked after me.

They’ve been really kind. In August, the truckers are even taking me to Truckfest in Peterborough.” Tiffany Wood, Joshua’s cousin, who introduced him to TikTok and often appears in videos with him, said: “The truckers have been amazing.

They’ve accepted Joshua for who he is. They’re helping to make TikTok a safer platform, and they’ve gone out of their way to help Joshua. “Myself and Joshua like to just do daft videos together on TikTok.

It’s fun. But there were a lot of nasty comments directed at him, because he has Down’s syndrome. People were saying he’s disgusting, that he shouldn’t be alive and that he should have been aborted.

“I tried to hide it from him, as I have control of the account and can remove comments, but if we were live streaming, I couldn’t filter them out. “Joshua sensed how upset myself and his parents were and he cried. I posted a video of him crying, to show people how what they were doing behind a screen affects people.

“The trolls made him think that everybody hates him. It was hard to explain to him that, in fact, the vast majority of people actually love him. “Joshua is a real people person.

He’s very crafty, he likes making things, and he enjoys doing all the silly dances on TikTok. He’s very friendly, so it’s sad that people throw that back in his face. “The truckers noticed the bullying and wanted to cheer him up.

When the truck came, Joshua cried, but this time they were happy tears. “They’ve made lockdown for us. Joshua has been strictly self-isolating and the truckers have helped him to keep going.

Mick Holmes, the Shipley-based trucker, said: “We’re truckers with TikTok trying to have a laugh and help people along the way, if we can. “We made Joshua’s day. We’ve also put money together to take him to Truckfest.

“Bullies are weak. They left Joshua in tears, but we’re trying to balance the scales so there’s more good than bad, I suppose.” Gavin Shearing, one of the truckers, who is from Sittingbourne, Kent, said: “When we visited Joshua, there was so much emotion in his face.

TikTok isn’t great at times, but we’ve used it in a positive way and rallied around him. No matter how many times people hit, he always comes back. He’s a lovely lad and we’ve taken him under our wing.”

A TikTok spokesperson said: “Keeping our community safe is our top priority, and our Community Guidelines make it clear what is not acceptable on our platform.

We want all our users to feel safe to express themselves without fear of being shamed, humiliated, bullied, or harassed.

“TikTok is a place for positive, creative expression, and it is heartwarming to see how our community has rallied together to bring joy to one of their own.”

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