A special charity book written by children at a south Belfast hospital was launched last week with a little help from well-known pantomime queen May McFetridge.
May paid a visit to Withers children's ward at Musgrave Park Hospital to launch the storybook to help raise money for the children's ward and ArtsCare, a charity set up to help promote arts within health and social care.
May read extracts from the book and joked with children and staff who had gathered around on the ward.
The children developed the storyline and thought-up all the characters and illustrations for the book, entitled ‘A Very Muddy Holiday’.
One of the children who contributed to the storybook, Caoimhe Courtney, 12, said she was thrilled to have the book published.
She added: “We all helped putting together the book, we gave the character names and made up the story, it took us three days to write. My favourite part was helping write the story — I've really enjoyed today and I think May is so funny.”
Cheryl Bleakley, ArtsCare artist in residence said that all the creatures and storylines came from the children.
She said: “The children got together and wrote a story about these imaginary creatures they made up, it all came from them.
“Many children were involved in illustrating the scenes for the book using collage, sculptures and painting. New patients picked-up from where others left off as the project progressed.”
It took seven months for the book to be completed.
Ward sister, Laurie Jones, added: “Children coming into hospital can be very stressed and projects like this one provided by ArtsCare can help create a therapeutic diversion for them and help the children to relax.
“This storybook is a beautiful example of how hospital can actually provide a positive experience for children.”
The book is now on sale from the children's ward priced at £2.50.