Originally published by Edinburgh Reporter on November 14th 2011
Six-year-old internet sensation Jack Henderson of Prestonpans finished his 536th and final commissioned drawing to raise funds for charity this week, marking the end of what his father Ed calls “a mad year”.
Web developer, Ed, has been running the site ‘Jack Draws Anything’ which was set up by Jack in March after youngest brother Noah was sent to the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids in Edinburgh with breathing problems. Jack drew pictures in return for donations to the hospital with help and support from brothers Noah and Toby. Eight months, 314 pens, 162 crayons, 96 pencils, a publishing deal and several TV appearances later Jack has finally completed his marathon of drawings, raising over £31,000 for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.
Before he ‘went into hibernation’ like his favourite animal the hedgehog, Jack said:- “I’m happy I got finished, but sad it’s the last one.” Although he admitted that he’d had enough drawing for the time being:- “I do get fed up sometimes, so I go and do something else like play the Wii, or with my brothers, or my Lego,” the Cockenzie Primary pupil told us.
Jack’s whirlwind year started when he interrupted his dad’s work on mum Rose’s website to ask him to create a site for him. “It was strange” said Ed “I’ve never been asked by a six year old for a website before.” Since then Jack has made appearances on STV’s The Hour, BBC breakfast, Fern Britton and Channel 5’s Live With Gabby, and he has created pictures for people across the globe including actor David Tennant and The Wiggles. He attended four awards ceremonies and won the title of Child of the Year at Bighearted Scotland Awards. Last month a book containing his first 290 drawings, ranging from ‘A rubber duck riding a bike shooting lasers’ to ‘A dinosaur diving into a pool of jelly’ went on sale, with proceeds going to the charity. The book has been given 16 five star reviews on Amazon.
But despite being ‘incredibly proud of him’, for the Henderson family it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. Mum Rose, dad Ed and brothers Noah and Toby, have all been involved, helping bring 222 cups of juice, 133 biscuits and 103 apples while he was drawing. Noah, who has had a viral infection since birth, has been admitted to hospital twice since the project began. “Jack genuinely thinks Noah is going to die every time he is submitted to hospital,” said Ed. “He wanted to give something back.”
At first the family was flooded with goodwill, publicity, picture requests and donations. “I received 2,000 emails in the first week and I answered them all. It’s important to say thank you,” Ed told the ‘Be Good Be Social’ conference in Edinburgh last week, which brought together third sector professionals interested in social media for social good. After a few weeks the family had to stop taking requests to prevent setting Jack an impossible target, and there even came a point when some people started contacting Ed demanding to know where their pictures were. “The pushy part was just a few bad apples. As I said in my Be Good Be Social talk, my advice is be nice to everyone, even the bad apples, and move on. I am a big boy, I can cope with folk being mean to me, but don’t hassle my kid – that makes me mad! You can lead a boy to crayons but you can’t make him draw. Six-year-olds get bored, it doesn’t matter what it is. He’s not a machine.” Ed said, “He’s drawn two pictures a day, on average, for eight months”
For the Sick Kids, Jack has been a hero. “Jack’s achievement is truly amazing.” said Maureen Harrison, chief executive of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.
Jack told us his favourite drawing from the 536 was: “A bumblebee for my cousin Ethan”
“My favourite is Bat on Fire,” Ed said, “I don’t know why, I just think it would make a kick ass t-shirt, its so simple, effective and stands out. It’s been a mad year. We’ve a couple of little things still up our sleeve with regards to Jack but no spoilers! I suppose I best finish Mum’s website I started in March now!”
You can still support Jack and all the Henderson family by visiting www.jackdrawsanything.com and donating to the Sick Kids Friends Foundation through the Just Giving button.