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A teenager with autism has sent almost 700 thank you cards to NHS staff after seeing news reports of how those working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic have been impacted.
Paddy Joyce, 17, started writing to healthcare workers at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in mid-January, and has since been able to hand-write 663 individually-named cards to members of the team.
Paddy, who has autism with significant global development delays, said: "I saw how sad and upset they were on the news. My mum said I should write to someone, so I asked her to find someone and LOTS of people wanted one, so I want to write to everyone."
The teenager, from Glasgow, has written a total of 1,000 cards to date, and hopes to send 5,000 by the end of the year.
His mum Indra said it helps with his concerns about coronavirus, explaining: "Statistics make sense to him because they are numbers and organised.
"He honed in on COVID death stats and they made him very upset, but he couldn't stop looking at them. Now, he'll read them, and they make him determined to write more cards so he can help make the doctors and nurses happy. And because a fair few respond to him, he feels he is making a difference. He now feels he has purpose."
She also thanked KIO Cards for supplying the cards and helping with postage costs.
Chloe Dacosta, staff nurse in recovery, said: "It's been a stressful time for everyone throughout the pandemic and it's little acts of kindness like these that keep you going. It really means a lot and lifts you up when times are tough and reminds us that we're all in this together at the end of the day.
"To Paddy - thanks for thinking of us and for doing so much hard work."
Pat Cruickshanks, charge nurse within ICU, also said: "This last year has been so different to anything we've known and it's not over yet. We're still very busy with both COVID and non-COVID patients and gestures like these provide something of a boost to keep us going.
"I know that everyone in the team and across the hospital is really grateful and I hope, at some point, we all get to meet Paddy to say thanks to him in person. He should be so proud of what he has done."
Margaret Cooper, an auxiliary within ICU, added: "You sometimes think that no-one else cares or sees what you are going through, so it's just nice to feel that we're not forgotten. It's amazing that he's thought of all of us and the amount of work he's put in is just fantastic. I really do appreciate it. He sounds like a very kind young man and I hope we can see him soon."
Paddy is due to start his sixth year at secondary school soon, and despite his complex needs hopes to pursue a pathway that could lead to work within the NHS.
Indra said: "The responses he has gotten have meant the world to him and now he thinks he might like to work for the NHS."
Dr Barbara Crooks, consultant anaesthetist at the GRI, helped to co-ordinate pulling together the hundreds of names for Paddy.
She said staff were 'blown away' by his heartfelt messages, adding: "Thank you to Paddy and his mum Indra for providing a much needed morale boost. Paddy is a fine example of a very caring young Scot and I wish him all the very best for the future."
And as if 663 individually-written cards wasn't enough, Paddy had another message for his heroes, saying: "Please stay safe while you are saving lives.
"I love you all."
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