An artist’s annual raffle has raised more than £35,000 in memory of two teenagers in less than three days.
Hope Blamire is best known for her stunning paintings of the Scottish islands, and has a huge following of fans who enjoy her daily snaps of Harris, Barra, Arisaig and beyond.
But her bumper Christmas raffle also draws in the crowd, and this year is proving no different – with the running total already double the £17,000 raised last December.
All the money raised will be split between suicide prevention charity Papyrus UK, in memory of 16-year-old Corey Liversedge, from Cushnie, and the Eilidh Macleod Memorial Trust, set up after 14-year-old Eilidh, from Barra, died in the Manchester Arena bombing.
Mrs Blamire said she was thrilled the fundraiser – which launched on Sunday, and includes prizes such as stays in Barra, Coll, Arisaig and Findhorn, handmade jewellery, gin and art work – was once again proving so popular.
She is aiming to hit the £50,000 milestone by the weekend and hopes the tally will keep rising until the live draw on December 13.
The former secondary school teacher, who is originally from Ayrshire but now lives in Bath, said: “Mental health will be affecting a lot of people this year as a result of lockdown. I’ve had so many messages from people who have lost someone to suicide.
“We need to do whatever we can to help and try to save others’ lives, and get them the help they need.”
Aboyne Academy pupil Corey died in October after struggling with anxiety and issues brought on by lockdown.
“Corey was just a normal outdoorsy lad, not into social media. It’s just terrible,” Mrs Blamire said.
“I was a teacher for 18 years and loved it. I miss the kids, they are great at lifting your spirits if you’re having a bad day. It’s very worrying that suicide among young people is getting worse as they face more and more pressure.”
Mrs Blamire’s first fundraiser took place in 2016 after winning a competition to design a label for Rock Rose gin. She raffled it off, raising £1,500 for Cancer Research.
From there the raffle has grown with thousands raised for charity and to create memorial benches for Aberdeen man Ali Repper, who died of a brain tumour, in Stoer, and Eilidh in Barra.
Mrs Blamire – who has missed her regular trips to the islands this year due to Covid – said she was always keen to support the Macleod family, particularly after such a difficult year with the Manchester Arena bombing inquiry.
“It’s been such a difficult year for them, going through the inquiry in the Manchester Arena bombing, trying to get answers,” she said.
“I’ve become good friends with the family, especially Eilidh’s mum. I couldn’t have a raffle with some of the money going to her charity.”
The mother-of-two, who is married to ceramicist Rupert, thanked all those who donated prizes this year, and promised supporters an entertaining night for the live draw on her Facebook page.
It will take place at 9pm on Sunday, December 13.