Helping sick and disabled children in the UK.

by The Theodora Children's Charity
Vetted
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.

Dr Dotty and a child in hospital
Dr Dotty and a child in hospital

We are happy to announce that our Giggle Doctors are now bringing smiles to children at a new hospital – University Hospital Lewisham. Below is one of Dr Dotty’s stories from the first visit:

"Jessica was the first patient I met at Lewisham University Hospital, and both she and her mum were waiting anxiously for Jessica to be taken to theatre for an operation. I asked Jessica if she was 'magic Jessica from on TV', to which she replied that she wasn't magic. I gave Jessica a wand and asked her if she knew any magic words. Claiming she had no magic powers or words, I said that perhaps we could use her favourite colour instead. Jessica waved the wand and confidently said 'red', and a red ball appeared magically under her mum's hair! We placed the red ball into her hand to hold tightly, Jessica repeated her magic word and made 2 appear! I told Jessica that she was just so fantastic with the magic wand that I thought she should keep it, as a present, to which she smiled and said thank-you. A few hours later I saw Jessica again having returned from her operation, and just from across the room she beamed a big smile at me and held up her magic wand, which she was still holding when I walked past."

We are planning on visiting many more hospitals in future so that we can bring joy and laughter to even more children like Alysandra:

“I would like to write to you to say a big thank you to Dr Geehee. You made my daughter, Alysandra feel so much better whilst she was recovering from having her adenoids removed and grommets inserted. She thoroughly enjoyed the distraction, the laughter and the humour.

As a whole, she was able to cope more confidently with her post-operative pain and as a result able to work with the nurses on her recovery and was the first to go home.

After she got home, the birthday card Dr Geehee had given her was very lovingly and carefully placed up on display and her ‘honorary’ clown nose is a very treasured possession. Her memories of your visit sustained her throughout her recovery at home and it has been the inspiration of many dress up games and pretend dolly hospital.”

 A parent, July 2013

From everyone at Theodora Children’s Trust, thank you so much for your support.

Dr I Spy and Dr Dovetail
Dr I Spy and Dr Dovetail

This month we launched our very first Chores for Chuckles week (13th - 19th May) which was very exciting. During this week we encouraged people to carry out a chore (or chores!) in return for a donation towards the wonderful work that the Giggle Doctors do. It was lovely to see so many people rolling up their sleeves to help children in hospital.

Training is going well for our aspiring Giggle Doctors. Our 10 trainees are finishing their Giggle Doctor observations next month and will then start their assisted visits with senior members of the team. Our new intake of Giggle Doctors will allow us to bring smiles to thousands more children in hospital.

Below is a story from one of our Senior Giggle Doctors, Dr Jammi:

“Yesterday I worked in Nottingham. On the oncology ward is an area where children come and wait together with their parents. Some are sat on chairs, others in beds. Some are being injected with their chemo, some are awaiting consultations. Yesterday there were five children ranging from three to fifteen with their parents in this area. It was quiet when I entered, nobody talking, the mood heavy and fearful. I was afraid too. Nobody looked at me as I walked into the room, eyes remained glued to television screens, phones and magazines. One teenager was asleep in a bed. 

I caught a glance from a teenage girl's mum and quietly introduced myself. A three year old boy in Superman pyjamas held on tightly to his mum as she tried to persuade him I might be fun. A teenage girl remained intent on writing on her iPad. I wondered aloud what she might be writing, a letter, an essay, a story or maybe she was composing a symphony or writing a film script. At this suggestion she raised her head and grinned at me saying that this was what she was doing. She was writing a film for her friends based on The Avengers.

The three year old continued to watch curiously and shyly, draped around his mum. A seven year old lying on one of the beds, who'd been absorbed by his television, said that he too had seen The Avengers. Spying a pile of pencils on the boy's table I suggested a duel between the two of us, he with a pencil and me with my toothbrush, maybe it could be an audition for the girl's film? She agreed. At which point the three year old decided to come and hand me the remains of his mum's pasta, at which point the whole room burst out laughing. He proceeded to want to stay as close as he could to me, giggling and skipping by my side.

There was only the lad who remained asleep and another teenager who remained absorbed in his DS who were now not engaged in the scene. I politely asked the DS boy whether he thought the lighting was correct to start filming, he raised his eyes and very seriously informed the room that the mimed lights, three and seven, were broken and somebody would need to fix them. A drink can became a walkie-talkie and a mechanic was called. He then said we might be able to work around the broken lights and said, "Action!" and clapped his hands together which the three year old loved and squealed with delight at.

The duel took place and filming and commentary ensued, the whole room actively engaged in playing out their imaginations. The atmosphere of the room had been transformed from fearful, lonely and quiet to a shared communal, playful space. The teenage boy remained fast asleep throughout undisturbed.”

 Thank you so much for your support, we really appreciate it.

Our team on the first day of training
Our team on the first day of training

In January our new intake of aspiring Giggle Doctors began their specialist training. On their first day in the classroom the 10 trainees met some of our existing Giggle Doctors, took part in improvisation and team building exercises and began their artistic development. The trainees have now completed two modules and covered topics such as artistic play, child protection, infection control, bereavement, loss and coping mechanisms. They will begin their final module in March.

Each trainee will develop their unique Giggle Doctor character based on their own personality, before eventually being issued with a bespoke Giggle Doctor coat. Trainees also complete a series of observations under the supervision of senior artists before “graduating”.

We recently received a lovely email from a staff member at The Children’s Trust, which we would love to share with you:

“You all bring every child you meet a special memory and a few moments of relief from the stress and worry they might be going through. You bring smiles, happiness and love to everyone you meet and we are blessed and privileged to have you share our lives”

This year we are launching a brand new event called Chores for Chuckles week (13th- 19th May). During this week, people are encouraged to carry out simple chores in return for a donation. Top find out more you can visit www.theodora.org.uk to download a Chores for Chuckles pack.

 From everyone at Theodora Children’s Trust, thank you so much for 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
$41,557 raised of $552,582 goal
 
321 donations
$511,025 to go
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