THE father of a young boy battling a brain tumour has spoken of his pride after his son won the city’s official Christmas card competition.
The colourful design by six-year-old Yiannis Hadjipieris, a pupil at Braidburn Primary School, was chosen by Edinburgh Council as their official festive card after judges were struck by the bright and cheery seasonal scene.
Hundreds of pupils across Edinburgh entered the competition and a final 11 were whittled down and shown on bus shelter screens on Princes Street.
And the final three, including Yiannis’s, were chosen to be made into Christmas cards for education convener Ian Perry, vice-convener Alison Dickie and executive director Alistair Gaw.
Sadly, Yiannis’s worsening condition meant he had to be taken into the Sick Kids for an operation and he missed the official presentation of the designs in the city centre.
But with the help of Cllr Dickie, who visited Yiannis and his parents, Leni Christodoulidou and Pieris Hadjipieris, in hospital, he was able to celebrate his proud moment.
Yiannis’s dad Pieris said he was ecstatic to learn he had won the competition.
He said: “Arts and crafts is one of his favourite things to do and when the class were tasked with creating a Christmas scene for the competition his carer told us he wouldn’t leave the classroom until it was perfect.
“I think he spent an extra two hours working on it. But it was all worth it to see his face when he found out he had won.
“His jaw just dropped. He cannot speak but the expression on his face said it all.”
Fellow winners Mithila Alamgir, P6 Sighthill Primary School and Avah Robertson, P5 Longstone Primary School, gathered on Friday to see their designs light up, but a recent routine MRI scan flagged up a tumour in Yiannis’s brain, meaning he had to stay in hospital.
His dad explained that the pressure in his brain had started to build up and a shunt had to be introduced to help drain the fluid.
But Cllr Dickie popped in to see the brave boy at his hospital ward and presented him with a card with his design on it.
“He was just so happy,” said his dad. “He was so proud of himself when he got the presentation from Cllr Dickie – that was a really nice gesture.”
Yiannis and his family, including nine-year-old brother George had the chance to see his artwork shining bright on Princes Street on Saturday.
And although years of pain and trauma experienced by the family have been tough, they remain resolute in enjoying the time they have together.
Pieris added: “We can’t hide from this, you have to face this type of situation head on and carry on.
“We are going back to Cyprus for Christmas and Yiannis and George will be spoilt rotten by their grandmothers, who are extremely proud of both of them.
“It is only logical that we focus on enjoying every moment we have – we will not let this get in the way of our time together and having a perfect Christmas.”
And Yiannis, who was on doctor’s orders to rest for a few days, showed that nothing will stand in the way of him doing the things he loves – including going back to school.
“Despite the doctors recommendation that he doesn’t go straight back, we couldn’t stop him, he just couldn’t wait to go back,” Pieris said. “He is a happy and determined boy and to say we are proud of him is an understatement.”