The memory of an inspirational young Inverness superhero will be kept alive with his bold and colourful artwork displayed in the new state-of-the-art children’s unit at Raigmore Hospital.
Keir MacGruer was a keen fundraiser for the Highland Children’s Unit Appeal which reached its £2 million target last month thanks to massive public support – although sadly he never lived to see it reach its ultimate goal.
The youngster died almost four years ago aged eight while waiting for a lung transplant after being diagnosed with severe idiopathic pulmonary hypertension, a rare lung disease which causes dangerously high blood pressure near the heart.
The Inverness Courier has been given a sneak preview of the new unit, which will transform children’s healthcare for a generation, features a 30-bed inpatient area including a purpose-built high dependency unit, a two-bed room for teenagers or patients needing palliative car, drop-down beds for parents and a family room.
It also features separate triage and day care areas, an education room, playroom and outside play courtyard and a telehealth training room.
Keir’s death came just days after celebrating the news from his hospital bed that he had raised at least £2500 for the appeal from an exhibition and sale of his original artwork and handmade cards.
But the legacy of his artwork, featuring his trademark superhero figures, will greet young patients as they enter the new children’s department, now almost finished.
Keir’s family – father Lewis MacGruer, mother Angela Cran and 15-year-old brother Finn, – of Grigor Drive, Lochardil, were given a sneak preview of Keir’s artistic displays.
"It was emotional but we also feel very proud," Ms Cran reflected. "I think Keir would have thought it was pretty cool. He would have been super chuffed. It is sad that he is not here to see it."
The chosen designs are a selection from the set he produced to raise money while he was still alive.
Ms Cran recalled Keir’s reaction, shortly before his death, on discovering how much he had raised. "He put his hands behind his head and leaned backwards and looked so proud," she recollected.
"It is lovely to see his artwork up there. The images are much bigger than we thought. They are very eye-catching."
Since Keir’s death, the family has continued to support the appeal, launched by the ARCHIE Foundation in conjunction with The Inverness Courier, to create a more child-centred and family-friendly children’s department with its own entrance.
The Keir MacGruer Memorial Cup for Artwork awarded each year at the Inverness Gaelic School, where Keir was a pupil, helps to raise money and keep his memory alive.
Other events have included organising a High Tea Hike up Ben Wyvis and supporting last month’s Final Push Friday event when one of Keir’s friends, young Inverness fiddle player, Finlay Maclennan, played in his memory at the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness.
"It is great to see everything coming together after such a big fundraising drive," said Ms Cran, who was impressed with the entrance to the new unit.
"I am sure for children coming into hospital who may never have been in before, it will make it less scary," she said. "It looks more colourful and welcoming than the hospital’s main entrance."