He may look sweet, but Garda Ray Campbell is part of an elite unit of special young gardaí.
A ‘wee hero’ from Co. Donegal has been drafted into An Garda Síochana for showing outstanding bravery in his battle with illness.
Ray Campbell (6) has joined the Donegal garda division through Little Blue Heroes – a charity foundation for children undergoing long-term medical treatment.
Ray was the star of his school assembly at St Aengus National School Bridgend on Tuesday as three gardaí turned up to present him with his official Garda uniform.
The senior infants pupil smiled from ear to ear when he was dressed up and he couldn’t wait to turn the sirens on in the garda car outside his school.
Ray’s mum Patricia said: “The day was so special. Ray loved every part of it. It put everything into context because Ray is already a wee hero considering what he’s going through.”
Ray has neurofibromatosis (NF1), which has the potential to cause tumours to grow on his nervous system. The brave boy has finished two years of chemotherapy which has successfully stablised a tumour behind his left eye. He is blind in his left eye as a result of the optic glioma.
Patricia added: “This day was so special for Ray because he missed a lot of school last year. To be part of an assembly is amazing. And his eyes lit up when he was told he’d be visiting a local garda station soon.”
Ray, who loves to laugh and sing along to his favourite country music artists, will soon be keeping his new colleagues on their toes when he inspects the Buncrana station in the months to come.
Ray was nominated as a Little Blue Hero by Garda Laura Martin, who is a family friend of the Campbells and has fundraised for the charity initiative. Garda Martin recently completed her training in Templemore and works down the country. She was joined by Inishowen-based gardaí Declan Lambe and Gary Helferty for the official presentation to Ray in Bridgend.
Garda Martin said: “It was a very proud day for me to be able to do this. Ray is so lovable and so full of craic. We were delighted to see how excited he was on the day.”
Ray was overwhelmed with excitement and loved showing his friends his shiny new uniform.
He is now part of an elite unit of bright young gardaí in Donegal. He joins the force alongside Raphoe schoolboy Garda Jack Beattie (aged 7) who was drafted into the Letterkenny station earlier this year.
A surprise cheque of €1,000 from Little Blue Heroes was presented to the Campbell family yesterday, which mum Patricia said was completely unexpected and much appreciated.
“The money is a big help because we are still travelling up and down to Dublin. It will go a long way and we are so grateful,” Patricia said.
Ray’s parents Patricia and Ronan Campbell added: “We’d like to say a huge thanks to Garda Laura Martin, who organised everything from start to finish. We can’t thank her enough. Thank you to Garda Halferty and Garda Lambe, thanks to the school and Principal McGowan for letting us disrupt their day with all the excitement at the assembly.
“Thank you to the special medical teams who cared for Ray when he was going through his treatment in Crumlin and Letterkenny. Their kindness makes life better for us.
“And thank you to everyone in our local community who have given us amazing support, who have fundraised for us and have always been there when we need them.”
Little Blue Heroes is a charity established by Garda staff which aims to support local Gardaí in providing financial assistance to families in need in their local communities who have children undergoing long-term medical treatment for critical illness.
The foundation also aims to provide Garda themed distraction toys, activity books, and children’s events (e.g. Garda for a Day or Special Garda Open Days) for the children they support. To find out more or to donate, visit www.littleblueheroes.org