WATCH: Sisters rendition of Castle on a Cloud will give you goosebumps

Two Co Down sisters who are visually impaired are using musical notes to generate bank notes for a sight loss charity.

By Graeme Cousins
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 5:26 pm

Mollie and Beth Gibson set themselves a £100 target, but they have already sang their way to £3,000 for RNIB.

The Banbridge girls, who both have sight loss, wanted to raise money for the charity that facilitates the youth club they love so much.

Every day in the UK, 250 people begin to lose their sight. To help spread awareness of this, RNIB and 28 other charities from the sight loss sector are asking people to to ‘Take on 250’ in January by choosing any activity, and completing 250 minutes, 250 laps, or 250 hours of it.

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Mollie and Beth Gibson

Beth, 12, and Mollie, nine, decided to sing for 250 minutes, initially aiming to raise £100 through friends and family, but after their mum Lindsay posted twice daily videos of the girls singing on her Facebook page, the feedback was mind-blowing, and the donations started flooding in.

The sisters have raised nearly £3,000 just over halfway through January.

Mum Lindsay, who teaches at Bronte PS, said: “I didn’t even realise, but Mollie had been on the RNIB website after deciding she wanted to help raise money for them and she told me about the Take on 250 Challenge.

“She was at a loss what to choose and I suggested singing. That’s all they do night and day anyway, they sing everything, so it made sense to do something they love.”

The Gibson girls with mum Lindsay and dad Andrew

Mollie and Beth attend Allegro School of Music where they practice musical theatre and Mollie, who attends Banbridge Academy, also sings in school.

Their videos have become a hit with many logging onto Facebook daily just to hear the girls’ latest rendition.

One supporter wrote on Lindsay’s video of Mollie singing classic Danny Boy: “I have goosebumps and a lump in my throat again; fantastic Mollie and don’t forget family when you are famous.”

Another wrote, “I am loving this little daily addition to my day” while someone else commented: “Beautiful; brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much.”

Father Andrew, who is the minister in Banbridge and Donaghcloney Methodist Churches, accompanies the girls on the piano while mum Lindsay acts as videographer.

Both parents are so proud of all the girls’ efforts, the reason they are doing it and of their eclectic mix of Christian hymns, folk and pop songs and Disney theme tunes, courtesy of Beth.

Mollie said: “We wanted to do this so RNIB could continue to help people who can’t see as well as everyone else. We’ve really enjoyed the challenge so far and everyone has been so lovely with their comments and donations, we can’t believe how many people are watching.

“It has been good fun and we’ve laughed lots.”

Both Mollie and Beth were born with Albinism, a condition where they have less melanin than usual in their body.

Melanin gives skin, hair, and eyes their colour and albinism is associated with vision problems.

Mum Lindsay recalls: “When they were born, their diagnosis was something we weren’t expecting. While neither Andrew nor myself have the condition, but we are both carriers.

“Very quickly we were put in touch with the right support networks and realised it was all manageable and so we took each day as it came.

“The girls are great; this is their normal and they manage really well. Without technology and the tools and aids they use in school, like iPads and magnifiers, things might be different, but they can manage. Technology has come so far and its life changing.”

The RNIB youth club runs in Banbridge and the girls joined four years ago when they moved to the area.

“They both just love it,” said Lindsay.

“Mollie, especially. Being with other young ones her own age who have sight conditions really gives her confidence.”

The youth club had to take a temporary break due to the pandemic, but sessions took place virtually over Zoom and will hopefully resume in February.

Donna McNicholl from RNIB’s Children, Young People and Families team, said: “The Banbridge youth club is a fun, vibrant and lively group of young people who meet up regularly to take part in a variety of interesting and exciting social activities which they choose and plan to do themselves.

“We have great support from our parents and family members who volunteer and help with the preparation for activities such as arts and crafts, technology, science, cooking, sport and wellbeing activities to name but a few.

“The Banbridge youth club is a fantastic opportunity for our young people with sight loss to meet, chat, laugh, learn and have a bit of fun. Our next online youth club will start on Friday, January 28, so come along and join in.”

Anyone interested in attending the youth club can contact Donna on 07541769337.

Lindsay can’t believe the kindness of others and how people have responded to the girls fundraising appeal. She said: “People just keep donating! It shows the power of social media. We are very grateful to everyone, thank you.”

Lizzi Wagner, Senior Challenge Events Manager at RNIB, said: “We’re excited to welcome back Take on 250 for 2022. The last two years have been a rollercoaster for everyone and particularly for blind and partially sighted people. So, let’s begin 2022 with a fresh start.

“If you’re up for a challenge, why not join us and Take on 250 to help raise funds for RNIB and provide support for the two million people living with sight loss.”

If you are interested in in to the free virtual fundraiser, please visit www.rnib.org.uk/donations-and-fundraising/challenge-events/take-250-rnib

You can donate to Mollie and Beth’s JustGiving page by clicking here

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