Holly Willoughby makes unexpected This Morning return for this heartbreaking reason

Holly Willoughby seen filming the ITV This Morning show on June 08, 2021 in London, England
(Image credit: Photo by HGL/GC Images via Getty)

Holly Willoughby has made an unexpected return to This Morning during her and co-host Phillip Schofield’s summer break for a heartbreaking reason.

Holly Willoughby has been the host of popular ITV daytime (opens in new tab) show, This Morning, for 11 years alongside best friend and co-host Phillip Schofield. Though many fans will no doubt have been left wondering why they haven't been on ITV in recent weeks. Instead of Holly and Phillip, viewers have seen Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford return (opens in new tab). The couple were replaced on their regular Friday slot in January, with Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond being confirmed as new hosts (opens in new tab) late last year.

Now Eamonn and Ruth are back presenting whilst Holly and Phillip are on their summer break. Yet despite being kept busy with other ventures, including her new BBC project (opens in new tab), Holly made a special surprise appearance on the ITV show this week. 

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Eamonn and Ruth were joined on Thursday by 9-year-old Sophie Fairall and her parents. The family’s world was turned upside down after Sophie was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable cancer, leaving her with just months to live. Not prepared to let her health battle hold her back, however, Sophie has written a list of special activities she wants to do.

One of these was a visit to the This Morning studio, though Ruth and Eamonn didn't stop there. Explaining that they know Holly is Sophie’s favourite presenter, Ruth revealed that Holly had sent the little girl a very special gift.

Sophie appeared delighted when she received the tiara Holly wore for the This Morning Christmas pantomime, before being introduced to Holly herself over video link.

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“Sophie it’s so, so lovely to meet you,” Holly began, much to Sophie’s delight. “I’m so sorry I can’t be there, but when I heard you were coming on the show I was like, right,  I want to be there, to want to see her and I wish I could be there, but I’m sending you a big virtual cuddle through the screen.”

The ITV star then admitted to Sophie that she had previously asked if she could take the tiara home after the Christmas pantomime, only to be refused as it was “too special”. 

However, they all made an exception for Sophie, as Holly said, “You have that with our love, because I know you like that.” 

Holly also gave Sophie, who is a “big fan of Australia”, her very own water bottle from her time on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!. 

Holly Willoughby with Lanson Champagne at The Championships at Wimbledon on July 5, 2021 in London, England

Following the video exchange between Holly and Sophie, viewers were left in awe of Sophie’s strength and took to social media to show their support.

What an amazing little girl and well done everyone involved making her dreams & wishes come true,’ one person commented. 

Whilst someone else wrote simply, ‘Beautiful strong princess’. 

Sophie, I really hope you get every wish granted on your list, what an incredibly brave beautiful young girl’, another powerfully declared.