Talented pupils in South Tyneside see works published after competition-winning paintings capture pandemic pain

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Erin Dunn, 13, was among hundreds of pupils from Hebburn Comprehensive School who took part in a national competition organized in partnership between the NHS and the publisher, Books About Who.

School children across the country were tasked with designing a poster or writing a poem that both summarized the pandemic and showed appreciation for the tremendous efforts of the NHS.

Not only was Erin’s painting selected to feature in the book, but it was chosen as the cover image. The painting features a drawing of Captain Tom Moore alongside NHS doctors and nurses against the backdrop of the rainbow image that has become synonymous with the pandemic.

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Erin said: “I didn’t think I would have a chance to win. It took nearly a year from submitting my painting to the editors responding so I figured the winners must have already been contacted.

“I was really excited when I found out my painting was going to be published, especially when I was told it would be the cover.

“I made Captain Tom the center of the painting because I had seen on TV all the fundraisers he had done and obviously all the doctors and nurses did such a good job. The Rainbow -sky is something I’ve seen throughout the pandemic – on the roads, in people’s windows – and thought it must be in my painting.

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Hebburn Comprehensive School pupils Erin Dunn, 13, and Christina O’Brien, 12, had their paintings about the pandemic published in a book to raise money for the NHS.

The inclusion of a floating image of a face mask was something very personal to Erin.

She added: “Face masks are one of my fondest memories from the pandemic. By the time you had them all day at school, they got really stuffy. I didn’t like wearing them but I understood why we needed them.

“Drawing really helped me during the lockdowns and the pandemic. It was fun and you could use your imagination so you didn’t feel so trapped.”

Christina O’Brien, another Grade 8 student, also joins Erin to see her work published.

Erin Dunn, 13, a student at Hebburn Comprehensive School, with her painting on the cover of ‘Thank You NHS’ book.

Christina, 12, said: ‘We were in our caravan near Alston and I remember seeing a crow through the window. I found it difficult during lockdowns as I like to be outside climbing trees – I hate the feeling of being locked in and got really bored.

“I included the crow because I was looking forward to the end of the lockdowns and being able to be free as a bird again. I didn’t think my painting would be chosen, but I was really happy when I found out that it was the case.”

Along with receiving free copies of the book titled ‘Thank You NHS’, Erin and Christina also received a premium art set and a certificate.

Christina O’Brien, 12, a pupil from Hebburn Comprehensive School, holding a copy of her painting which was included in the recently released ‘Thank You NHS’ book.

Artistic Director Shameem Sivdiqui said: “The pandemic has been so difficult for the students and it’s fantastic to see their work published in the book. They were all affected in one way or another, with family members falling ill and even ending up in hospital.

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