A note from our founders...
On the 12th of April 2014, we crossed the milestone of 20 years in the service of children in hospital! As founders of the charity, together with our board of trustees and wonderful Theodora team, we thank you with all our hearts for having made it possible. Indeed without your faithful and generous support, this would have remained a dream!
Since our very first visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital, we have had at our heart the aim of giving joy to children in hospital. We have achieved this by organising individual visits from specially trained, talented and sensitive artists.
Close to 500,000 children were given magical and unforgettable moments of laughter. Through the stories and rich imagination of the Giggle Doctors, we helped the children to escape the hospital environment and enter a colourful world full of humour, music, magic and adventure.
20 years is surely a milestone but we still have so much more to achieve. To lead the Theodora Children's Trust into reaching out to many more children, we are happy to announce that Charlotte Wilson was nominated by the board of trustees, on the 9th of April, as the new Chief Executive of the Theodora Children's Trust. We are very thankful to Charlotte for accepting this responsibility and we look forward to her leadership.
Thank you all for being a part of our team. The generosity and spontaneous joy of Theodora, our mother, lives on.
Andre Poulie, Jan Poulie
2014 is a big year for the Theodora Children's Trust. We are celebrating 20 years of bringing fun and laughter to children in hospital and, thanks to your support, we have also been able to expand our programme of smiles. Not only have we started Giggle Doctor visits to new hospitals such as Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, but we've also introduced a brand new project: Giggle Doctor visits for children in hospices. Demelza Hospice in Eltham, Haven House Hospice in Woodford Green, and Richard House Hospice in London have all had their first visits from a Giggle Doctor. The Giggle Doctors will visit the children at these hospices every month, following the hospice ethos of helping to add life to days, when days cannot be added to life. We're very excited to be reaching out to lots more children in need.
Our Giggle Doctor team is also growing. Our 10 trainees graduated in April, increasing our team to a fantastic 29 Giggle Doctors. These specially trained entertainers will continue to bring smiles and laughter to thousands of children each year. Many children, just like Harry (see page 3), find hospital a little daunting. Thanks to your donations, Dr Dovetail and her funny friends are able to bring a bit of light relief during these moments of anxiety.
Please help us to keep these big smiles spreading. Perhaps you could recommend the Theodora Children's Trust to your company (maybe they're celebrating an anniversary too!), or suggest the charity to your child's school (see page 5). There are lots of ways you can help the visits continue. Find out how on pages 5 -7.
Cathi North got in touch to tell us about how Dr Dovetail helped her 12 year old son Harry.
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.
How often does Harry have to visit the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital?
Harry has had three general anaesthetic procedures in day surgery at the Royal Alexandra.
How does Harry feel when he has to go to the hospital?
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.
When did Harry first meet the Giggle Doctors?
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.
How did the Giggle Doctors help?
They 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.'
Spotlight on fundraising: Schools
Thank you so much to all the schools that have helped to fundraise for the Giggle Doctor visits over the years. It is fantastic when children get involved to help bring laughter to other children.In this newsletter we speak to 2 schools about why they chose to support the Theodora Children's Trust.
Eveline Day School supported the Theodora Children’s Trust last year and raised an incredible £2,940, which they then doubled for the charity by taking part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge.
Both the school and nursery took part in a 10km sponsored walk around Richmond Park, and held a family fete day to raise money for the Giggle Doctor programme.
We spoke to Eveline Drut, Head Teacher at Eveline Day School, to find out more about their year of fundraising...
“We enjoyed raising money for such a good cause. The children had so much fun participating in a sponsored walk around Richmond Park, which was followed by a family picnic. Their favourite Giggle Doctor, “Doctor Snug” came to visit us numerous times. Her special assemblies were always full of giggles, laughter and fun. We hope that we can raise money for the Theodora Children’s Trust again soon!!”
Clifton School and Nursery are supporting the charity this year. Chris Tidswell, Deputy Head Teacher, spoke to us about all the fun things the students have been doing to fundraise
“So far we have had a charity Christmas Ball and raffle for parents and a school ‘Crazy Day’ for children. The Crazy Day involved lots of activities, such as street dance, a drumming workshop, a children’s disco and even juggling.
The charity has also helped to support our curriculum. In the week leading up to Crazy Day some of the year groups had a full week of all things ‘crazy’! Our Reception classes planned a circus assembly, writing invitations to the parents and a list of performers.
During the rest of the year many of the staff will be taking part in a fun run and all the children will take part in the national ‘Chores for Chuckles’ week, collecting sponsorship money to do lots of busy jobs at home!”
If you are interested in getting your child's school involved, or would like to find out more about Chores for Chuckles week (19th - 25th May) please contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org
Give a Giggle: Make a donation
40 funds a Giggle Doctor visit for a bay of young patients on a children's ward.
Please give what you can to help the laughter continue. Every pound really does makes a difference.
To donate online by card please visit: www.theodora.org.uk