Life

Kasper the amazing paperclip boy tells of his charity swap challenge

Inspired by a YouTube star, Co Down schoolboy Kasper Andreasen has swapped a simple paperclip for items including a Terry Bradley painting and a diamond necklace to raise thousands of pounds for children living with cancer. He tells Joanne Sweeney about his unique challenge

Kasper Andreasen who started a paper clip challenge to raise money for charity Angel Wishes Picture: Mal McCann
Joanne Sweeney

SCHOOLBOY Kasper Andreasen has taken a humble paper clip and turned it into thousands of pounds towards helping children with cancer in a unique charity challenge.

Starting with a white paperclip last September, he has since made seven swaps and currently has a new diamond necklace with earrings worth £2,000 ready to trade. Around £4,000 in donations has also been received so far from Kasper's fundraising by local charity Angel Wishes, which provides treats and trips for children with cancer and their families.

Kasper from Corbet, outside Banbridge, got the idea from Canadian Kyle MacDonald who started off swapping a red paperclip for a novelty pen – a year and 14 swaps later, he ended up with a house for himself.

But it was playing with a girl around his own age who had leukaemia and now is thankfully in remission, that spurred the student at St Colman's College, Newry, into action.

He asked mum Phyllis if he could start his swap, but initially neither she nor Kasper had any idea of what they were getting themselves into.

"When he first asked to do it, I wasn't keen," explains Phyllis, "but he kept asking about it so then I said that if he got a swap I would help him. But I didn't think I would have to become his secretary!

"We have lived abroad for quite a few years due to my husband's work and we were at home last summer. There was a little girl who lives close to us who found out she had leukaemia just before she went into P7. She was out and about playing outside with Kasper and from playing with her, he became aware of children with cancer and that's why he chose to do it."

Kasper and his parents went on a visit at Christmas to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast to meet children with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses who are helped by Angel Wishes. The charity was formed in 2015 by Moira woman Gaye Kerr in memory of her twin son and daughter Brian and Helen who both died too young.

Helen died at the age of three in 2005 after battling a rare blood disorder called HLH. Her twin Brian died seven years later in 2012 after developing the rare genetic disorder Fanconi's anaemia.

Kasper was delighted when his local Tesco store agreed to swap his paper clip for a remote control toy car.

Kasper swapped his paperclip with David McKay, community manager, Tesco Extra Outlet, Banbridge for a remote toy car worth £12

Then using social media sites such as Facebook and press articles, that went on to be swapped for a restaurant voucher, a second-hand bike, a large mirror, a console table, a new wedding dress, a TAG Heuer watch from Lunn's jewellers and the diamond pendant and earrings from Murray & Co jewellers.

Along the way, he has received cash donations as well as in-kind donations such as an original painting from artist Terry Bradley and a holiday to Transylvania worth £3,000 for two families for the Brown Bear experience.

Kasper was given a painting by artist Terry Bradley as part of his paperclip swap challenge

Kasper trawls promotional competitions, giveaways and advertising on Facebook; he then contacts the business, explains what he's doing and asks for a swap.

Phyllis says: "The majority of them reply that while they think it's fantastic what he's doing, they already support a charity but London travel company Untravelled Paths gave the Brown Bear holiday to two families for respite. They told me that it just pulled their heartstrings that a 12-year-old was doing this.

"It's a bit like fishing – you just never know what you will get,” she adds. “It's getting harder to get a swap now that the value has gone up. But Kasper actually thinks he's going to get a Ferrari as he's getting greedy for his charity and I'm going, 'Kasper can we stop now please?'"

The support received has been overwhelming to mother and son at times, as Lunn's gave back the wedding dress that they traded for the watch and Tesco in Banbridge has held on to the paper clip to return to Kasper as a memento once his challenge ends.

And the family have got a wedding invitation as well from the young Dundalk woman who bought the wedding dress in memory of her brother who died from cancer.

Kasper has become a real hero at school and with businesses and beyond who have donated money to his cause.

"I just want to get as much money as I can, hopefully; we just want to get everything sold and give the money on to Angel Wishes,” says Kasper. "Doing this has really has improved my confidence as people have just been so nice. Raising money is something that I would like to do it but maybe not as big as this."

:: For information on Angel Wishes, visit facebook.com/AngelWishesni.co.uk or contact Kasper's mum Phyllis Andreasen on Facebook.

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