12-year-old Dante Valaydon-Pillay from Raglan has just completed number five of his 12 monthly challenges for Children in Need.

This February has seen him create three art photos that will be displayed at IAP Gallery, Church St, Monmouth and The Wilson Gallery in Cheltenham. They will also be auctioned online, with all proceeds going to his Children in Need fund.

Dante’s desire to start fundraising was sparked, after his mother was struck down by a series of strokes. Dante said, “When I was five, my mum went into hospital to have her appendix out and ended up having several strokes. 

“She couldn’t look after me for three months so my family and some of my mum’s friends looked after me instead and then they looked after both of us when she came home. We were lucky although I didn’t know that then. 

“Now I’m twelve, I realise that I was lucky but some kids aren’t. My friend’s mum fosters kids who have no one.”

Following this, Dante has been on a fundraising journey. In 2023 he took this to the next level by committing to 12 challenges in the name of Children in Need; from climbing up and abseiling down the formidable Clifton Gorge in Bristol (which, stands at around 210ft) to lending a helping hand at local food banks; sorting, packing, and handing out food parcels. 

For his fifth challenge however, Dante decided to get creative.

At the beginning of last month, Dante set out with his trusty old camera and began taking his photos around the local area. He decided to focus on the theme of ‘reflections’ following a school assembly talk. 

During the assembly the teacher explained that there are two meanings to reflection; reflecting upon a memory and mirror images. 

Dante commented, “My photos are about reflecting on what has happened and looking at the same thing but in a slightly different way. That’s why I’ve chosen a theme of reflection. My photos are about sadness back then but being bright and happy now”.

Although he took lots of photos, Dante was able to narrow them down to them down to three, before playing around with the colours on his computer. He decided a combination of black and white and colour would work well. 

Upon their completion, Dante took his designs to Shackleton Photographic in Abergavenny to have them printed. 

Dante in Aber
(Photo supplied)

In a generous gesture, the shop manager, Jonathan Griffiths, donated the printing of the photos as they wanted to support Dante’s Children in Need Fundraising efforts. 

Mr Griffiths said: “People like you make the world a better place, good luck with your fundraising”.

From there, Dante went over to Beaver Framing, Monmouth who were equally impressed with Dante’s efforts. They too donated their time and materials! 

Pics with Dante
(Photo supplied)

The husband and wife team and professional framers, Emma and Michael Batty, were also on hand to show Dante how the process of framing works. 

He was fascinated by the process and under the expert guidance of Mr Batty, he was able to make and frame his own photos. Regarding Dante’s enthusiasm, Mr Batty said: “Dante is a lovely boy and the photos are brilliant. It’s an absolute pleasure to lend our support to Dante. We wish him well”.

The framed photos are on sale at IAP Fine Art, Church St, Monmouth but can also be bid for on eBay with bids starting at just 99p. 

His art will also be displayed The Wilson Gallery. Hannah Taylor their Learning Officer said: “You have inspired us to make this a permanent space for community artwork with a worthy story, so you will leave a legacy here!” The new, dedicated space is known as the ‘Local Community Hero Wall’. 

Bids will be open from March, 8 with all profits going to Dantes JustGiving Children in Need Fund, which currently stands at over £740.