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Little heroes who drew pictures for 10p and gave pocket money to NHS

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South Eastern Health Trust chief Seamus McGoran with (from left) Tommy and Maddie Keenan, and Joel and Sarah Baines

South Eastern Health Trust chief Seamus McGoran with (from left) Tommy and Maddie Keenan, and Joel and Sarah Baines

South Eastern Health Trust chief Seamus McGoran with (from left) Tommy and Maddie Keenan, and Joel and Sarah Baines

A group of children have been rewarded for their generosity after raising money for Northern Ireland's health service at the height of the Covid-19 crisis.

Eight-year-old Maddie Keenan and her five-year-old brother Tommy were among those who received "superhero" certificates from Seamus McGoran, chief executive of the South Eastern Trust.

The pair raised £40 for NHS staff, after aspiring artist Maddie offered to draw pictures for those passing by her garden gate in exchange for modest donations of 10p.

Setting up her business - with brother Tommy in charge of collecting the money - Maddie soon found her work to be very popular around the Ballyholme community in Bangor.

Dad Michael explained: "They had to set up seats for people who were waiting for their drawings. People in cars were stopping or coming back and asking for one.

"They had been looking for something to do after morning home schooling and Maddie has always been into her arts and crafts. She came up with the idea by herself.

"They took their paper and pens outside and set up a little stall.

"Most people were very generous and gave a pound and things, rather than just 10p. At one stage she actually had a bit of a backlog with people having to wait.

"It was during the lockdown in June and lots of people were out getting their exercise.

"The children thought it was great fun and it gave them something to do every day."

Michael said the whole family was "incredibly proud" at the fundraising efforts by Maddie and Tommy being recognised by the Trust, with Maddie herself describing meeting Mr McGoran as "very exciting".

"It was amazing we even got a response from the chief executive," said Michael.

"I got a phone call and he asked us if we were free to come in and have a cup of tea with him. The kids were over the moon.

"We are all proud of how they have coped as a whole throughout lockdown."

Five-year-old Joel Baines from east Belfast was also recognised with a certificate for his generosity.

Joel wrote a letter to Mr McGoran in which he said, "Here are my savings. Love Joel, age five".

The kind-hearted boy had donated £5 of his pocket money as a gesture to health staff who had been working during the pandemic.

Mr McGoran said: "It is very touching to see that children as young as this appreciated their efforts. I would like to thank them for being superheroes."

Belfast Telegraph