Boy's Santa letter found 50 years after his death

Paul Trench's letter to Santa Image copyright Ray Trench
Image caption Nine-year-old Paul Trench's modest list of requests for Christmas 1966 was found 49 years later

A letter to Father Christmas written by a nine-year-old boy just before he died has been found nearly 50 years later.

Paul Trench's Christmas 1966 wish list was found tucked away in the family's old children's encyclopaedia by his older brother Ray.

Paul died suddenly in 1967. "He had a school medical one week and was gone the next," 65-year-old Mr Trench said.

Finding the letter "after all these years" was "like being hit by a thunderbolt", he said.

Written on a "rather browned piece of torn out exercise book" it simply asks for a football game, a torch and some cars and buses.

Image copyright Ray Trench
Image caption Paul Trench died from an unexpected illness, possibly a viral infection, when he was nine

"I can just imagine him sitting there writing that, quite an earnest little boy and, as you can see by the length of the list, not a particularly greedy little one either," Mr Trench said.

Santa did provide the England v Argentina Subbuteo, "probably the most infamous game of the World Cup that year".

The encyclopaedia has been in the family for decades but was only recently reopened when Mr Trench gave it to his son Nathan.

Mr Trench, who lives in Hartlepool, wishes he could have seen how "the most intelligent" of the brothers would have turned out.

"Whereas I've got older and the hair's gone white, Paul's stayed the same age."

Paul died of an "unexpected" illness although the cause has never been known.

Mr Trench said it was put down as a viral infection.