Helping sick and disabled children in the UK.

by The Theodora Children's Charity

The work of the Theodora Children’s Trust makes such a difference to children and their families at such difficult times. We can’t thank you enough for your support.

Yvette C recently got in touch to tell us about how the Giggle Doctors helped her daughter Mimi:

Why was Mimi first admitted to hospital, and how did she feel?

Mimi was first admitted to hospital in June 2013. She had been extremely tired and used to sleep a lot. She then developed a squint and started to vomit in the mornings so we took her to the Opticians, who advised we take her straight to hospital. Mimi was sent for a MRI scan and the results showed a tennis ball-sized tumour in her head.

When did Mimi first meet the Giggle Doctors?

At first we spent a lot of time at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. It was there that we first met the Giggle Doctors. Mimi was only 3 and I think she was overwhelmed and confused about being in the hospital. She loved interacting with the Giggle Doctors though; it was a real treat for her.

After Mimi's initial operation in June we were allowed to go home and were out of the hospital for 3 months. However, in September 2013, another MRI scan showed that she had hydrocephalus and that half of the tumour they had removed had grown back! We were devastated and set to start chemotherapy ASAP but were told that first the hydrocephalus had to be sorted out with a shunt.

One of my favourite moments with the Giggle Doctors was on the day of this operation. Mimi and I were waiting for hours on the ward. Mimi was nil by mouth and very lethargic. That was, until the Giggle Doctors walked into the playroom and blew some magic bubbles for her! She was running around with the most beautiful big smile on her face. It turned out to be her last moment of fun before everything went wrong. In hindsight this became my most treasured Giggle Doctor moment. Mimi did not respond well after the operation and to this day we still don't know why this happened. She was having seizures and had to go into intensive care for a while.

After her stay in intensive care we were on the ward for 8 weeks. We saw the Giggle Doctors quite often there and it was lovely. When Mimi and I saw them go into another room first we would excitedly wait for them to come into our room. Mimi loved the balloon animals and would really giggle. I have a clip of it somewhere. It made me well up as it was like our 'old normal' Mimi was coming through all the misery she went through.

How did the visits change Mimi’s experience of hospital?

At the hospital you live from visit to visit. Doctors, Physios, Nurses etc..but the highlight for Mimi was always the Giggle Doctors, and it was the same for all of us. It helped us to have that little happy laughing moment once in a while, during a very worrying and stressful time.

We still make regular visits to Addenbrooke’s Hospital to receive chemotherapy, eye tests, attend endocrine appointments etc. Mimi still goes to the hospital in good spirits; not once has she told me she doesn't want to go. This is thanks to the Theodora Children’s Trust and the Giggle Doctors!

Harry with his postcard from Dr Dovetail
Harry with his postcard from Dr Dovetail

We receive lots of messages from parents of children who have met our Giggle Doctors. Harry’s mum got in touch to tell us about his visit from Dr Dovetail…

Harry has had problems with his teeth since he was tiny. The enamel did not form properly on them and he has had to have lots of work done on them, including lots of extractions of baby teeth. He has visited the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton regularly for treatment.

Harry has had three general anaesthetic procedures in day surgery at the Royal Alexandra. The first time Harry visited the hospital he was really quite nervous as he was only 7 years old. He finds it really boring and being a growing lad really doesn’t like having to be starved or having nothing to drink for hours before he goes down to theatre.

Harry met the Giggle Doctors for the first time when his older sister was in hospital for a biopsy procedure back in 2008. The following year he met them again for his first procedure. He recalls it quite clearly as they had sticky bubbles which he found fascinating.

The Giggle Doctors really took Harry’s mind off the whole hospital experience; they made him laugh and really lessened his levels of anxiety about having various things done, such as needles, and having to talk to staff about how he was feeling.

At his last appointment Harry had a terribly long and tedious wait for his surgery and was feeling rather low after not eating for over 9 hours and not drinking for over 5 hours due to being bumped down the surgery list.

Dr Dovetail was absolutely fantastic with him, she was such good fun. Hopefully this was Harry’s last day surgery and she made it incredibly special for him. It’s not easy being 12 years old on a 4 bed ward with 3 very young children but she really took his mind off things.

The Giggle Doctors have helped all 3 of my children through the procedures they have had to endure. They make us all laugh and smile, and make the boredom of waiting much more bearable. Above all they make the children totally forget, for a short time, the reason they are there. We are so grateful for them at difficult times.

Harry tells us how Dr Dovetail cheered him up at his last visit to hospital…

I was really looking forward to seeing the Giggle Doctors because they always make me laugh and smile and forget about everything that is happening, like the needles and waking up with blood in my mouth.  I saw Dr Dovetail this time and she took selfies with me! It was really funny because she used the remote control for the bed instead of a camera.  I told her all about breakfast and how mum made me have a shower because I was stinky!  Dr Dovetail thought it was funny.  I was really nervous because I was nearly the last on the list to go into theatre. The first boy that came back from theatre was screaming and it upset me so I left the ward and found Dr Dovetail. She was in the kitchen with another child and she did magic tricks which really took my mind off it all.  She is lovely and I want to say thank you to her because she gave me a postcard with her picture on it and signed it. It says 'Thanks for all the top tips on showering and eating cornflakes. Laters alligator! Love Dr Dovetail.'

Thank you for helping to make all these smiles possible.

Our founders, Andre and Jan Poulie
Our founders, Andre and Jan Poulie

We have recently started visiting 2 new hospices; Richard House Children’s Hospice and Haven House Children’s Hospice.

“It was lovely to have the visit by Dr Gee Hee at our residential area with her prescription of strong laughter. The visit was a very funny and enjoyable time and there were a lot of smiles on the faces of the children and also the carers and staff too. Thank you to Dr Gee Hee and Theodora Children’s Trust for making it possible and we look forward to further visits by the Giggle Doctors!”

Nick Oorloff, Clinical Service Manager at Richard House Children’s Hospice, April 2014

On the 12th April the charity celebrated its 20th anniversary. Theodora Children’s Trust was founded by Andre and Jan Poulie back in 1994, in memory of their mother Theodora. As a child Andre spent a lot of time in hospital, but thanks to his mother’s daily bedside visits he remembers the time fondly. In her memory the Poulie brothers wanted to share her legacy of fun and laughter with other children in need.

Andre Poulie, Founder and President of the Theodora Children’s Trust said:

“Since our very first visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital, we have had at our heart the aim to give joy to children in hospital. Close to 500,000 children have been given magical and unforgettable moments of laughter. Through the stories and rich imagination of the Giggle Doctors, we have helped children to escape the hospital environment and enter a colourful world filled with humour, music, magic and adventures.”

Thank you so much for helping to make these magical moments possible.

Dr Yoho
Dr Yoho

Exciting news – our Giggle Doctors have now started bringing smiles to children in hospices!

In January, Dr Yoho visited the children at Demelza Children’s Hospice in Eltham for the very first time. Bringing her own unique mix of fun, laughter, silliness and magic, she brightened the days of the children there.

Demelza offers children, young people and their families the chance to build memories as a family unit. The fun our Giggle Doctors bring will provide additional magical moments for these families to treasure forever.

Kathy Gilbert, Deputy Head of Care at Demelza South East London said:

“Dr Yoho was great fun. She saw all the children and adapted what she did, depending on who she was working with. She blew up balloons, made silly faces – the kids loved it, there was lots of laughing. We’re very excited about having Dr Yoho visit us at Demelza every month.”

Each year we continue to grow and visit more children who are in need of a little magic, fun and laughter. This year we are celebrating our 20th anniversary, and a larger team of Giggle Doctors. These specialist entertainers will make a huge difference to the lives of children in hospitals, hospices and residential care.

Thank you so much for all your support and for making so many smiles possible.

Thomas holding his wand and postcard from Dr Faffy
Thomas holding his wand and postcard from Dr Faffy

Sammy C. got in touch to tell us about the time her 7 year old son Thomas met Dr Faffy.

When did Thomas first become ill?

“Thomas went on a nature walk with his school. When his teacher wasn’t looking he picked a mushroom which unfortunately turned out to be toxic. At first his school thought his symptoms were the result of hay fever but knowing he doesn’t suffer from it I was instantly concerned. We soon realised the toxins from the mushroom had been absorbed through the pores in his skin. His face had swollen to twice its normal size and his eyes had begun to close and go blood shot.

I took him straight to the A&E department of Glan Clwyd Hospital in Rhyl. On arrival we were seen by doctors who told Thomas that he would have to be admitted. Whilst we were waiting I saw two Giggle Doctors entertaining children and their families. They were laughing but I didn’t pay much attention, I was too worried about Thomas and his condition.”

When did Thomas first meet the Giggle Doctors?

“Once settled on the children’s ward Thomas had a series of blood tests to check whether the toxins had affected his organs. He hates needles and was in floods of tears. Dr Faffy appeared on the ward at just that moment and began blowing bubbles and singing songs. She went around the room, entertaining each of the children there. Thomas and I had been in the hospital for 5 hours by that time but Dr Faffy soon made us forget why we were there. She didn’t pass judgement or comment on how his face looked, she looked past all that, concentrating solely on cheering him up. She sang funny songs and encouraged him to take part in some magic. There was such an aura about her in that single moment; she made all the day’s events just fade away. Even the nurses got involved, singing along and bursting the bubbles that Dr Faffy had blown. In my eyes it made them seem human and ‘nice’ as Thomas put it; more than just someone in a blue or green uniform. Another hour passed and Dr Faffy was still going around the wards and the play room. She came back to Thomas and me to sing a song but first made him a balloon banjo. He played along with Dr Faffy with a huge Cheshire cat smile on his face. She gave him a certificate for being so brilliant.”

How did Dr Faffy help?

“There’s a beautiful quote which I think sums up what the Giggle Doctors do for sick children and their parents. “When the world says ‘give up’, hope whispers, ‘try one more time’”. Hope is sometimes found in the smallest of things. One person saying ‘hello’ or singing breaks down barriers and no matter how sick a child may be laughter helps the heart beat on and gives hope and comfort.

 Dr Faffy touched our lives in one single moment with a smile, music and lots of bubbles. She made our stay on the ward easier and helped us to forget about why we were actually there. Even now, Thomas is still talking about his visit from the Giggle Doctor. He now believes magic is not just in Harry Potter movies…he has the wand to prove it.”

Thank you so much for helping us to bring smiles to children like Thomas. We really appreciate your support.

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Organization Information

The Theodora Children's Charity

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.theodora.org.uk/​
Project Leader:
Emily Swords
Chief Executive
London, Greater London United Kingdom
$40,167 raised of $552,582 goal
 
312 donations
$512,415 to go
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