'Surrogate' gran wins kids hearts with online bedtime stories

Marie Hughes from Galway could not see her grandchildren due to social distancing measures and started to read them online bedtime stories.

'Surrogate' gran wins kids hearts with online bedtime stories

A loving gran who can't see her grandchildren because of Covid-19's social distancing has started reading them online bedtime stories - and other kids are fast adopting her as their own surrogate nan.

Maire Hughes from Ahascragh, Galway was missing her grandchildren so much that she asked her daughter Aisling to film her reading the younger ones a bedtime story on her Instagram page, The Irish Horse Life, last Thursday.

But the sprightly native of Clontarf in Dublin is already gaining a big following from other kids who are tuning in to her vivid and engaging storytelling -which is partly down to her drama background.

"I have six grandchildren - aged from five to 14 years old - all around the country, who I can't see at the minute because of social distancing and I miss them terribly," she said.

"I normally read the younger ones bedtime stories when they visit so I asked my daughter to put me on Instagram and Facebook so I could keep in touch and still read to them.

"I was always a big reader and I've loads of books here in the house from when my children were little so Enid Blyton is among the authors getting revisited," she laughed.

Maire, who is chair of the Ballinasloe Town Hall Theatre, also reads to elderly people at the Social Services Day Care Centre but can not at present due to the Coronavirus visiting restrictions.

The community-minded lady also bakes and drops scones and home-made jam to the gate of an elderly neighbour and then waits until she comes out to converse with her from a distance.

I've never seen anything like this in my lifetime or heard of anything like it in the past but people seem to be following advice so hopefully we will be able to get it under control here.

As for now, Maire is sorting out her children's books for the 7.30pm Monday night online reading and getting used to her fame on social media.

"I love the fact that my grandchildren can see me and I can see them all snuggled up in their PJs. I just can't give them a hug, but hopefully I will again soon.

"My three brother's grandchildren will also be tuning in from across Ireland and as far away as Rotterdam.

"I'm also being told other kids are loving the stories as well and sure if I can be someone else's surrogate granny and make them smile and appreciate the art of reading, then that's great."

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