it was hats off to young Harry McCulloch this week, when fellow pupils at Earlston Primary School finished a special project to help the youngster raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital for children in London.
With the help of Melrose-based milliner Karen Reid, the school’s primary seven youngsters have spent one afternoon a week for the past five weeks designing and creating their own Easter bonnets, using only recycled materials.
The winning hats will be picked after a catwalk fashion show as part of an Easter Extravaganza being staged at the school tomorrow night.
As well as the pupils’ forays into millinery, there will be a raffle, the Cocktail Experience will be on hand to create ‘mocktails’ (non-alcoholic) refreshments, and Radio Borders presenter and Harry’s dad, Stuart McCulloch, will be on hand to compere the evening.
The rest of the school will also be involved with a colouring-in competition by the nursery department and primaries one, two and three, while pupils from primary four to six have been making Easter pictures using recycled pieces.
Money raised will go towards Harry’s Fund in aid of the children’s charity that supports the work of Great Ormond Street Hospital, where primary three pupil Harry has received treatment for much of the last year.
Born in 2004, it was aged 16 months that Harry was diagnosed with the condition Hydrocephalus – fluid on the brain. He also suffers from a left-sided weakness in his arm and leg, and is partially-sighted. By the age of two, Harry had endured a series of operations to remove fluid from his brain and it was then that he was diagnosed as having epilepsy.
Several years of drug therapy, rafts of tests and investigations, as well as spells in and out of a variety of hospitals followed. Harry also has to attend regularly at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. However, Harry and his family were eventually notified that he was a suitable candidate for a special operation which was carried out at Great Ormond Street in December.
Avid Celtic supporter Harry and his family – he has two older bothers and an older sister – now have to wait for a year to see how successful this has been. And in the meantime, they are raising as much money as they can as a way of thanking the hospital for its care and treatment.
Harry’s mum, Pauline Martin, an additional needs support worker at Greenlaw Primary School, says she cannot praise highly enough the care Harry and her family has received from staff at Great Ormond Street.
“The care the staff have given Harry and the consideration shown to us has been second to none,” Pauline told TheSouthern this week. “We have been up and down to Great Ormond Street a number of times, but they don’t have dedicated accommodation for parents who need to stay over close to the hospital.
“That gave us the idea of raising money to help accommodate other parents like ourselves when their children are receiving treatment.”
Harry’s Fund has already benefitted from several donations, including cash from a recent event staged by Borders College.
Karen says she is delighted with the way the Easter bonnet project with Harry’s fellow pupils has gone.
“It’s been an absolutely brilliant experience. The kids really got into the whole thing and came up with some really good creative ideas. Over the past five weeks they’ve spent time sketching out designs and then using recycled materials to make them reality,” she explained.
“The pupils have been working on recycling themes as part of their normal school work, so this fitted in very well and is also benefitting a very good cause.”
Karen is friends with Harry’s mum and it was while the two women were chatting that the idea of a project involving the school came up.
“Since opening my shop in Melrose, I’d always wanted to do something with local schools and it was Pauline who suggested doing something with the youngsters at her son’s primary school in Earlston,” she told us.
“I’d wanted to do something with a charity as well and, living in Earlston myself, this all seemed the perfect fit.”
Earlston Primary School’s Easter Extravaganza takes place in the school tomorrow, from 7pm until 9pm.
Tickets are now on sale from Karen Reid Designs in Melrose (contact Karen on 07773 058911) or from Earlston Primary School priced £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for children and concessions.