Co Tyrone Lego inventor Leo bound for a career in engineering says mum

Five-year-old Lego and Star Wars fan Leo Donnelly who won a UK-wide competition to design and build his own Lego Star Wars ship

FOR parents despairing that there are four more weeks summer holidays left to 'entertain' their kids, the message from one Co Tyrone mum is to get the Lego box out.

Julie Donnelly certainly has no problems with boredom in her house, as her two sons Leo (5) and Eddie (6) are both Lego fanatics. In fact Leo, who goes to St Jarlath's Primary School Blackwatertown, recently won a UK-wide competition to design and build his own Lego Star Wars ship.

The judges said they loved his imagination and that his ship, which trapped baddies with a cage and kryponite gun and had golden robots and storm troopers on board, was "out of this world".

Leo, who started building with larger Duplo blocks as a three-year-old, but quickly progressed to the tiny bricks, building magical kingdoms, won a huge Lego Star Wars Imperial Ship and was featured in the July edition of Tesco magazine.

"Lego is the first thing he does every morning. It can be hard to drag him away from the bricks and get ready for school," laughs his mum Julie.

While Leo and his brother own a few Lego sets, they have learnt to be young entrepreneurs, trading their other toys with their cousins in exchange for Lego. Rather than simply build a model and let it sit on a shelf or put it carefully back in it's box, Leo always takes them apart to build new inventions with the pieces.

"People wonder why I don't keep my proper ships when I've built them – but I think it's more exciting to invent my own," says the five-year-old.

His mum Julie believes he is destined to work in engineering and believes Lego is a valuable learning tool.

"Lego combines fine motor skills and dexterity with the technical skills of geometry, symmetry and engineering, as well as fostering creativity and imagination," she says.

Julie also welcomes the fact that Lego can keep children busy for hours and build their perseverance, as well as the fact that unlike academic subjects and sport, there are no right or wrong answers with Lego.

"Children are under so much pressure to learn from an early age nowadays. Lego gives them so much freedom as they can simply let their imaginations run wild."

Having recently returned from a holiday at Legoland Windsor, the family are looking forward to going to this week's Bricklive event at Belfast's Titanic Centre, which is making it's Irish debut.

:: Bricklive Belfast takes place from August 3-6.

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