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Charity clowns to walk miles in alter egos’ shoes

Thursday, 04 July 2019

Two children’s entertainers have vowed to fill some suitably big shoes for Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity’s upcoming sponsored walk.

Celine Mall (48) from Glasgow and friend Darren Spiers, who entertain the young patients at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children as ‘Tickles’ and ‘Davro’ will tackle the 10k challenge in their clown shoes.

They’ll join hundreds of others on the walk – which this year has been dubbed ‘Oor Wullie’s BIG Walk’ as it takes in part of its namesake’s public art trail – in the 14-inch long comedy footwear.

Celine, who has been clowning for almost 20 years in total – and Darren, who entertains at selected events at the hospital – have both seen first-hand the positive impact the funds raised by Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity has on the hospital’s young patients and their families.

Over the period of six years that Celine has been visiting the hospital as ‘Tickles’, she has spent thousands of hours bringing smiles to the faces of hundreds of children, from the dialysis unit to outpatient and day surgery and all the wards in between.

Celine said: “I spend around 167 hours each year parading the Royal Hospital for Children disguised as ‘Tickles’, seeing up to 1,000 patients – and that doesn’t include fundraising events, seasonal parties and other special events held at the hospital.

“Every single visit for me is special, as it’s an absolute privilege to be able to brighten up the days of so many young patients and their families and so humbling to hear from parents the difference a few minutes of play can make. The funds raised by Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity ensure I, along with my other clowning comrades, can bring a little bit of fun to the wards. That’s why Darren and I agreed to take part in this year’s sponsored walk…with a comedy twist, of course.

“Not only is play essential to allowing children spending time in hospital to lead a more normal childhood, but it also helps enhance their hospital experience. It’s completely natural for them to become anxious about their treatment, and at times they become nervous about being visited – but when they see me in my ridiculous clown shoes, they begin to laugh. We play, blow bubbles and have fun together, which makes that fear fade.”

Celine has had countless memorable experiences during her time entertaining patients, which have encouraged her to sign up for Oor Wullie’s BIG Walk to support the patients via Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

She added: “There are so many wonderful memories from over the years, but one special moment that will always stay with me is a visit to a particular little boy who had been in hospital for a long time with a condition that meant he was learning how to swallow again. He was finding it really difficult and, during one of my visits, he was having a hard time trying to eat some sausages.

“I just started telling silly stories about the food – and was generally clowning around – to help him relax. Slowly but surely, he began to swallow the food more easily, and it was incredible to see just how much some simple play was able to enhance and progress his treatment.

“It’s moments like this that led me and my clown friend Davro to sign up to walk the 10k this August. We’re really keen to raise as much as possible for the charity, but we also cannot wait to see the looks on the children’s faces when they see us walking past on the route with our huge, silly shoes. Every single person who signs up and raises even a few pounds ensures that Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity can continue funding programmes and services to give children in hospital the extra special care they really deserve.”

The sponsored walk organised by Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity takes place annually, but this year will see a new route – and new name – to mark this summer’s Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail coming to the city.

The 10k and family-friendly 3k route, on Saturday 10th August, will take in the sites of the West End of Glasgow, as well as some of the specially-decorated Oor Wullie sculptures dotted around the city as part of the national public art trail.

Participants and their supporters will also have the chance to enjoy fantastic entertainment at the finish line with a celebratory fun day.

Kirsten Sinclair, Chief Operating Officer at Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Last year’s sponsored walk was a huge success, with more than 1,200 participants raising funds for the charity, and we expect this year’s to be just as successful thanks to the new route and the added opportunity to tick some special Oor Wullie sculptures off the BIG Bucket Trail list.

“We owe these successes to participants like Celine and Darren – or Tickles and Davro, I should say. We’re exceptionally grateful to anyone who gives their time to take part in our fundraising events, and we applaud Tickles and Davro for going the extra mile to make children on the route smile. They have some big shoes to fill on the day, but I’m confident they’ll have no problem taking on the challenge.”

For more information, or to sponsor Celine and Darren, visit www.justgiving.com/Ticklestheclown

To find out more about Oor Wullie’s BIG Walk – or to register to take part – go to www.glasgowchildrenshospitalcharity.org, email info@glasgowchildrenshopitalcharity.org or call 0141 212 8750.


About Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity

Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity supports the 173,000 babies, children and young people treated each year at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children.

The charity raises funds to  ensure that patients and their families receive the best possible care and experience in hospital – including enhanced medical equipment, innovative play programmes, family support services and ground breaking paediatric research.

For more information, visit www.glasgowchildrenshospitalcharity.org