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Woolly impressive: Mum’s artwork bags Shaun the Sheep tie-in

© Andrew CawleyHannah Kelshall, and her son, Rhonin
Hannah Kelshall, and her son, Rhonin

A mum whose ingenious plans to entertain her autistic son during lockdown has been hailed by the creators of Wallace and Gromit.

Now Hannah Kelsall’s artwork, celebrating the NHS rainbow, features in a Shaun the Sheep colouring book. She has also been praised at Westminster for her efforts, which have helped thousands of families across the UK. Hannah, 33, said: “What started off as a way of entertaining my son Rhonin has snowballed and we’re delighted.

“I’ve always been a huge Shaun the Sheep fan, and when creators Aardman got in touch after seeing some of the work I’d been doing with the NHS rainbow I was blown away.

“They asked if we could do a collaboration and the image is now available on the Shaun the Sheep official website activity page.”

Aardman’s Rachael Peacock said the film company, which has entertained generations with its characters, were delighted to collaborate with Hannah.

She said: “Shaun the Sheep is a sheepy sleep ambassador for The Sleep Charity and is helping to spread the word about the importance of a good night’s sleep.

“We saw the great rainbow colouring activities that Hannah was providing and thought it was a great way to use some of the assets we’ve got to support the NHS and The Sleep Charity at the same time.”

Hannah, who is also mum to one-year-old Ellowyn, said lockdown was stressful for Rhonin, seven, who has severe anxiety and autism. Like many children with the condition, Rhonin struggled with the changes the pandemic suddenly brought into his life, and Hannah came up with ideas to help normalise things including designing a paper bunny doll which she used to put on different uniforms of health workers, policemen and firemen.

She designed play books, art activities and scavenger hunts which she shared on her Chase the Rainbow Resources Facebook page.

She has devised a series of special books about going back to school, too, saying: “Rhonin attends St Kenneth’s in East Kilbride, and I wanted to do something so he knew the school is still there.”

Hannah’s work has been highlighted in the House of Commons by her MP Dr Lisa Cameron, who described it as “a wonderful example of a mum’s ingenuity”.

Dr Cameron said: “Because I chair the cross-party working group on disabilities, many people have been in touch after suffering problems because they are unable to wear a mask because of health issues.

“It’s extremely upsetting for them to be challenged about not wearing a mask, and Hannah’s exemption cards are a wonderful way to let others know there’s a medical reason. Just because someone doesn’t look disabled, it does not mean that they are able to wear a mask.”