Sick Kids Hospital set for cash boost, thanks to Alex Salmond’s Christmas card

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder with Mr Salmond at the card's unveiling. Picture: Jane Barlow
Dame Elizabeth Blackadder with Mr Salmond at the card's unveiling. Picture: Jane Barlow
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EDINBURGH’S Sick Kids Hospital is set to get a boost from Alex Salmond’s Christmas card.

The First Minister asked renowned painter Dame Elizabeth Blackadder to paint a picture for the front of his official card this year.

The original painting – which features wild flowers and plants in recognition of the forthcoming Year of Natural Scotland – will then be auctioned in the new year for good causes.

Dame Elizabeth nominated the Sick Kids Friends Foundation to be one of the four charities due to benefit from the sale.

Mr Salmond sends out about 900 cards each Christmas. Previous designs have included a specially commissioned painting Let’s Twist Again by Fife artist Jack Vettriano and a Mona Lisa-style work entitled Bella Caledonia by Alasdair Gray.

This year’s painting was unveiled by the First Minister at the Royal Botanic Garden at an event attended by Dame Elizabeth, whose paintings can sell for between £5000 and £20,000.

Mr Salmond said: “Throughout 2013, we will celebrate the outstanding and diverse beauty of this country in the Year of Natural Scotland, where we encourage people to get out and enjoy what the great outdoors has to offer.

“It is therefore fitting that my official Christmas card this year will feature a painting by Dame Elizabeth Blackadder, whose work is well known for its celebration of nature through its flower and plant motifs. I am absolutely thrilled that Dame Elizabeth – arguably Scotland’s greatest living female artist – has agreed to be involved.

“Her beautiful image shows a vivid array of common flowers and plants that can be seen in the wilds or gardens of Scotland, and I am certain it will raise a great deal for the four very good causes selected to benefit from its sale.”

Since 2007, sales of original artwork and limited edition prints from the First Minister’s Christmas cards have raised more than £131,000 for various charities across Scotland, including the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, the RNLI and the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund. Sharing the proceeds with the Sick Kids Friends Foundation this year are Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Dyslexia Scotland and the Scottish Steelworkers Memorial Fund.

Dame Elizabeth said: “I was very pleased to be asked by the First Minister to paint the image for this year’s Christmas card and I’m delighted that it will help support the work of four good causes in Scotland.”

Maureen Harrison, chief executive of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation said Dame Elizabeth had supported the foundation for many years and had painted small pictures for the postcard exhibition which the charity stages every two years.

Ms Harrison said: “We are absolutely delighted the Sick Kids Friends Foundation will benefit from this lovely Christmas initiative. The funds will help us to ensure that sick children and young people will have even better care at the hospital and that their families will be well supported too.”

The First Minister is understood to have been a regular outpatient at the hospital for a decade during his childhood as he received treatment for asthma.

He referred to himself as “an ex-patient of the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh” during a parliamentary debate last May where he insisted the new £250 million facility at Little France “would be built”.