Lottie Billington of Westport, Co Mayo, has just been announced as the winner of a competition for an illustration in JK Rowling’s latest children’s book, The Ickabog.
Nine-year-old Lottie, whose drawing of a peacock was one of just 38 out of over 18,000 entries, is more than just a talented artist.
In addition to her younger sister Rosie, she is also “full of kindness,” according to mother Sarah.
The two girls tragically lost their father Mal a few years ago when he died of a sudden unexpected death from epilepsy.
Ryan held back tears as Sarah shared the inspiring story behind her family’s journey after Mal’s death.
“Lottie and Rosie were my greatest teachers,” Sarah said of her two children.
“You really showed me how to deal with the big feelings – be it through art, dancing, singing or whatever.”
At that point in the interview, tears fell across Ireland – and things moved even more when Lottie Tubridy shared the little act of kindness they do every year to keep their father’s memory alive.
“We always go to a cafe on my dad’s birthday and buy hot drinks for the next 10 people who come in,” she said, letting Ryan – and the rest of us – dive for the tissues.
As if things couldn’t move anymore, the idea came from the girls – who use their own pocket money to pay for drinks and remember their father.
“It was an amazing way to remember him – and a very real way.”
Sarah, who marveled at her strength during a long and difficult journey, added: “I don’t want to give the impression that we are constantly drawing pictures and dancing. We are not.
“There are days when I’m desperately lonely and it hurts like hell, and I’m a moody mother she doesn’t deserve.
“But for the most part, we have a good life. Something terrible happened to us, but we have a beautiful life full of people who love and support us.
“Mal lives on a lot in his two girls.”
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