Tattoo artists make a mark

Ian Richardson with his daughter Ava, who is celebrating her second birthday. Ian and Ava survived a car crash that killed Ava's mother and older sister.
Ian Richardson with his daughter Ava, who is celebrating her second birthday. Ian and Ava survived a car crash that killed Ava's mother and older sister.

AN idea that stemmed from a tattoo has become a fundraising extravaganza.

Tragic dad Ian Richardson never forgot the words of his daughter Mya who sent him a message saying: “To daddy. I love you more than anything.”

Ian, who won an Award For Inspiration in the Mail’s first Pride of Hartlepool Awards in 2011, lost both six-year-old Mya and his wife Joanne, 40, when they died in a road accident in 2010.

He and his youngest daughter Ava, now aged three, 
survived.

Ever since, Ian, from Billingham, has run the Jo and Mya Memorial Fund to support children who have lost loved ones.

One of the Fund’s most popular events is a tattoo convention which has become a massive Tees Valley attraction, pulling visitors from Derby, Liverpool, Hull and Scotland.

This year’s convention runs from 10am until late on Sunday, September 1.

Ian, 40, said the idea for the convention was inspired by the tattoo on his arm. He also has a tattoo of Joanne and Mya on his back and now runs the annual convention at Thornaby Aerodrome.

The one on his forearm was taken from a note left for him by Mya saying “lots of love.”

It was the spur, years later, for Ian to hold a tattoo convention which will be held for a second time this year.

But the difference this year is that the public have come forward in massively bigger numbers.

“It seems to have captured the imagination of people,” said Ian, “and I am excited by that.”

This year’s event will have 52 tattoo artists, bunjee jumps, face painting, a sweet stand and a bouncy castle.

“Three tattoo artists have already donated their time to the charity and that means we have raised £2,000 before we have even started,” said Ian.

“Last year, we raised £14,000 on the day and we had 1,200 following on Facebook. This year, we have already got 7,500 Facebook followers and I have no idea what the potential for this could be.

“We have already sold 300 tickets before the event and there are two weeks to go. I have had ticket sales from Derby, Liverpool, Hull and Scotland. It is phenomenal.”

Tickets for the convention are £10 for adults. Admission is free for anyone under-16.

People can either pay on the door or visit the charity’s website at www.joandmya.co.uk/tattoo to order online.