A FAMILY has been hiding painted stones for NHS staff to find in a show of appreciation for healthcare workers.

Hove resident Fran Aiello, her children Bluebell, seven, and Dexter, one, and boyfriend Scott Lipscombe have been busy painting since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

What began as an activity for the children soon became a city-wide celebration of NHS workers.

Fran, 32, has been sent dozens of messages from those who find her stones as well as those joining in the trend.

“Like everyone else at the beginning I was thinking ‘what can I do to help?’,” she said.

“I was unwell so I couldn’t volunteer.

“But a few weeks before the pandemic we collected stones.

“We started painting them as an activity for the kids. Then we thought, ‘why don’t we make them NHS-related?’.

The Argus: Fran, right, with children Dexter, one, and Bluebell, sevenFran, right, with children Dexter, one, and Bluebell, seven

“Me and the family went up to the hospital recently and left some outside. A couple of ambulance workers sent us a picture with their stone.

“There was a boy in the cancer ward who’d been waiting a week for his operation and he found one.

“My hope is NHS staff will keep their rocks so they know how much we appreciate the work they do.”

Fran’s Facebook page, where she posts about stones her family has painted and the people who find them, has attracted plenty of attention.

Her work has been featured by arts and crafts chain Hobbycraft and Fran is set to appear on an American childcare company’s online show.

But she said the best thing about her project is how her family has shown their artistic colours.

The Argus: Fran and her family have been painting stones during coronavirus lockdownFran and her family have been painting stones during coronavirus lockdown

“Bluebell absolutely loves it,” Fran said.

“She had no confidence before and now she loves it.

“Last night we were out until nine o’clock in the evening doing her rocks.

“When I said to her I’d been contacted by The Argus she wanted to speak to them. She thinks she’s going to be famous.

“Dexter just gets felt tips and paints and does whatever.

“My boyfriend, I didn’t even know he could draw. They’re really, really good.”

Fran and her family hope more people will join in with the trend. She is also selling T-shirts with pictures of the rocks for the Rockinghorse charity.

To join in or buy a T-shirt, visit facebook.com/fransnhsrocks.

  • Local newspapers across Newsquest are joining forces to raise money for workers at the frontline of the healthcare crisis. Please donate whatever you can, and let us give a collective, united message to our NHS workers of our huge appreciation for their efforts. You can get involved and support our campaign by sharing our appeal and telling us why you are thankful for the NHS #ThankYouNHS on social media using the link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-our-nhs-guardian-angels.