East Lothian girl, 11, raises cash for iPads in Edinburgh's Covid-19 wards after neighbour 'who was like grandad' dies from virus

An 11-year-old East Lothian girl is raising money for iPads in Edinburgh’s Covid-19 hospital wards in memory of her next door neighbour who succumbed to the virus.

By Jamie McKenzie
Friday, 24th April 2020, 4:45 pm

Grace Murray has painted 85 rainbows for each donation made so far to help coronavirus patients connect to their loved ones. She started hanging the pictures from a tree in her Ormiston street last week to say goodbye to 84-year-old neighbour Josie Christie in time for his funeral on Tuesday.

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But the pictures were removed by someone overnight last Friday, less than a day after she put them up – despite thank you messages and fundraising details being displayed on each one. Her father, Lee, found the pictures stuffed into a nearby bin later that day.

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Grace Murray has been raising money for iPads at the Western General in memory of friend and neighbour Josie Christie.

Already saddened by the loss of her next door neighbour, Grace was left heartbroken.

But she remains defiant and has now managed to pin all of her hand-painted rainbows to her mum and dad’s garden fence.

Her aim is to help Covid-19 patients in ward 73 of the Western General Hospital - where Mr Christie was treated - speak to loved ones who can’t visit due to the current social distancing restrictions, and be able to say goodbye to them virtually if it ever comes to that.

Speaking to the Edinburgh Evening News on Friday, Grace’s mum Emma Murray, 41, said: “Josie has been like a grandad to Grace, so she has been quite emotional and she could not get to see him when he was in hospital. She struggled to understand that she couldn’t go and see him, which is why she set up the fundraising page to get iPads, so that people can keep in touch with their loved ones.

Grace and mum Emma with Josie (left) and Grace painting her rainbows.

“Josie was part of our everyday life and part of our family but we could not say goodbye to him. At least with an iPad he could have heard our voices.”

She was ‘crying her eyes out’

Mrs Murray, who also contracted coronavirus and is near the end of her recovery, said her neighbour was admitted to hospital about three weeks ago and died after about a week.

She described him as a fit and healthy man who liked to cycle locally, although he had recently been in hospital for a gallbladder operation which had weakened his immune system.

Mr Christie’s funeral took place on Tuesday this week and Grace had hoped the hearse could be driven past the tree with the rainbows as a final goodbye.

Mrs Murray, whose family have lived next door to Mr Christie for 14 years, continued: “She came back crying her eyes out after hearing about the pictures being taken down, but this has given her something to focus on. She hasn’t had to deal with a bereavement before either.”

Grace set up the fundraising page and Facebook page in memory of Mr Christie and hoped to raise enough cash for one iPad.

But she has so far raised more than £1,200 which could be enough for up to four devices.

Mrs Murray, who runs a nursery in Midlothian, said one iPad has already been donated by the Rainbow Box Foundation which seeks to support Covid-19 patients with items like overnight bags or phone chargers.

Mrs Murray described Mr Christie as a very friendly man who was known by everyone in the village, having lived there all of his life.

She said he would often make kind gestures, like handing her reduced shop items, and liked to get up early and cycle about Ormiston and occasionally place some bets on the horses.

Anyone who would like to donate to Grace’s cause can do do HERE.