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Art of gold: Painter donating half her Christmas profits to air ambulance in memory of tragic teenage cousin

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GENEROUS: Michelle Wilson

GENEROUS: Michelle Wilson

GENEROUS: Michelle Wilson

An artist whose teenage cousin drowned in an accident last year is paying tribute to him with a Christmas fundraiser.

In memory of 13-year-old Jay Moffett, Michelle Wilson, from Banbridge, is donating half of all her festive profits to the air ambulance.

The service’s helicopter airlifted Jay to hospital after he got into difficulties while swimming with friends in a lake near his home in Scarva.

Doctors at Craigavon Area Hospital battled to save his life, but the Tandragee High School pupil was pronounced dead a short time later, leaving his relatives devastated.

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TAKEN TOO SOON: Jay with his mother Caroline

TAKEN TOO SOON: Jay with his mother Caroline

TAKEN TOO SOON: Jay with his mother Caroline

His family said at the time: “We are heartbroken by the loss of our beautiful Jay. He was a much-loved son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin who lit up the lives of everyone who knew him.”

Michelle hopes her charity fundraiser doses her cousin’s memory justice.

“When something like that happens, you feel helpless. I just want to do something to help keep Jay’s memory in focus. His mum Caroline and dad Wayne are delighted I’m doing it,” she said.

“Jay was a typical teenager. His loss still doesn’t feel real. Christmas will be very hard for his family. I have launched a limited-edition range of floral prints for Christmas, and in Jay’s memory I am donating 50 percent of the profits from all sales from now until Christmas to the charity.

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Michelle's portrait of Jennifer Aniston's dog Sophie

Michelle's portrait of Jennifer Aniston's dog Sophie

Michelle's portrait of Jennifer Aniston's dog Sophie

“It takes a staggering amount of money to keep the air ambulance going. God forbid that you should ever need it, but it is important that we keep raising funds so that it is there.

“I am hoping people will consider purchasing a print as a Christmas gift and help raise money for an amazing charity too.”

Michelle, who also paints animal portraits, grabbed news headlines last year when Jennifer Aniston posted on Instagram a picture of her dog, painted by the artist.

The Friends star also emailed her to complement her work, suggesting she might get her to paint her other dogs.

The actress was true to her word, and Michelle has since painted portraits of Aniston’s pitbull Sophie and her labrador rescue pup Lord Chesterfield.

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One of Michelle's pieces

One of Michelle's pieces

One of Michelle's pieces

“We are in contact by email, which is a bit mad,” Michelle told Sunday Life.

“I have done three pieces for her now. Hopefully the other two will make it onto Instagram as well.

“She is so lovely and she has said she wants me to do another dog portrait of one of her former pets in the new year.”

However, in the run-up to Christmas, Michelle will be focused on selling pieces from her new collection and raising funds in memory of Jay.

- For more details about Michelle and to support the air ambulance by buying one of her pieces, visit www.michellewilsonart.com


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