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Watch: ‘I’m the luckiest person in the world to do this as a job.’ 10 year anniversary of Suffolk clown doctors

PUBLISHED: 08:49 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:53 26 September 2018

Children on the Bergholt Ward at Ipswich hospital had an afternoon of laughter when Clown Doctors Filomena Cristallino and Chris Draude came to visit  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Children on the Bergholt Ward at Ipswich hospital had an afternoon of laughter when Clown Doctors Filomena Cristallino and Chris Draude came to visit Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A project which sees clown doctors visit children in hospital have celebrated their 10 year anniversary with a funding boost.

Clown Doctors Chris Draude (Dr Christobell Mischief) and Filomena Cristallino (Dr Fidget)  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNClown Doctors Chris Draude (Dr Christobell Mischief) and Filomena Cristallino (Dr Fidget) Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Rolled out across hospitals and hospices in Suffolk and Norfolk, the Suffolk Artlink brings Clown Round to the wards and bays of sick children, bringing laughter to those struggling with illness or injury.

Now the project has received £146,000 from Children In Need, allowing them to continue for three more years.

Dr Christobell Mischief - that’s Chris Draude to you and me - said: “We are so grateful to all of our funders, especially Children In Need because they believe in us and when someone believes in what you are doing it’s fantastic.

“I’m the luckiest person in the world to do this as a job.”

The Clown Round project has now run for 10 years Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Clown Round project has now run for 10 years Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The clown project began in 2008 when Ms Draude approached Suffolk Artlink and was given funds for a trial project at James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth.

She said: “I had been clowning for a longtime, about 20 years, I was a gentle clown not an in-your-face clown and that suites this environment.

“I just had an idea and I approached Suffolk Artlink and I was lucky because they understood the idea.

“I had done research about clown doctors from around the world and I knew that in my heart clowning could help people, that it could empower these children.

“Luckily the trial was well received and it has grown and grown from that.”

Dr Mischief and, her partner, Dr Fillie Fidget - or Filomena Cristallino - spend time playing, laughing and clowning with ill children, from tiny babies right up to teenagers.

Their work may appear to just be about keeping patients mentally well but it also aids recovery, reduces anxiety and has made the job of doctors and nurses easier.

Chris said: “If a nurse is trying to take blood they are going to be anxious, if we are there we can take some of that away.

“Just using a puppet or a balloon as a prop means you can transfer emotion from the child and make them feel less anxious.

“It’s all about connection, it doesn’t matter how old a patient is it’s just about reading cues and finding an means to connect with them.”

Seems that laughter really is the best medicine.

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