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Autistic teenager sends almost 700 thank you cards to hospital staff

Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland
·3 min read

An autistic teenager has sent almost 700 thank you cards to staff at a hospital to share messages of support with those on the front line dealing with Covid-19.

Paddy Joyce, 17, from Glasgow, began writing to healthcare staff in mid-January as a way to help with his anxiety after he became very upset over the death statistics.

With the assistance of staff at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI), he has now been able to hand-write 663 individually named cards to members of the team.

So far Paddy, who has autism with significant global development delays, has written more than 1,000 cards and hopes to send more than 5,000 by the end of the year.

Hospital staff with cards
Hospital staff have been touched to receive the cards (NHSGGC/PA)

He 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.”

His mother Indra said writing the letters helps with Paddy’s concerns about Covid.

She said: “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.”

The first of the cards were opened by people working in the intensive care unit (ICU) at GRI and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said staff have been touched by Paddy’s gesture of kindness.

Pat Cruickshanks, charge nurse within the ICU, said: “This last year has been so different to anything we’ve known and it’s not over yet.

Staff member with card
The cards have been sent to staff at Glasgow Royal Infirmary (NHSGGC/PA)

“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 the ICU, said: “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 will soon be starting sixth year at secondary school and despite his complex needs, he hopes to follow a pathway which could lead to him working within the NHS.

Dr Barbara Crooks, consultant anaesthetist at the GRI, who helped to co-ordinate the task of getting names together for Paddy to write the cards, said: “I know this was a tremendous effort from Paddy to write an individual thank you to so many of our team.

“They have been blown away by Paddy’s heartfelt messages, which have been quite touching and certainly lifted our spirits.

“Thank you to Paddy and his mum Indra for providing a much-needed morale boost.”