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Butchers making a difference

Published on: 11 March 2019

This was the theme of the speech made by Emily Swords, Chief Executive of Theodora Children’s Charity, in responding to the toast to the guests at the March Court Lunch held at Painters’ Hall.

Emily Swords
Emily Swords, Chief Executive of Theodora Children’s Charity speaking to Liverymen and guests at the March Court Lunch.

Theodora, a beneficiary of one of the two Major Awards made, on a three year cycle by our Charity Committee, believes that all children deserve laughter and its mission is to improve their experience of hospital.

Emily engaged the audience with the origins of this 25 year old charity, founded by two brothers in honour of their mother, Theodora, who had, herself, entertained one of her sons with warmth and laughter during his protracted hospital stay.

In describing the process of improving children’s experience of hospital she highlighted the role of Giggle Doctors; professional, trained performers who visit the children one-to-one at the bedside, encouraging them to play and have fun, an experience totally at odds with the rest of a hospital stay.

The magical moments of play and laughter generated by the Giggle Doctors captivate children, regardless of age and diagnosis, as well as their families, to try to make their time in hospital a little better.

Amazing white, bright and colourful coats, customised to fit their individual character signal that fun is on the way.

Six administrative staff and an annual income of just over half a million pounds manage 24 Giggle Doctors in visiting 21 hospitals across England and last year they entertained and made a difference to over 30,000 children.

Improvising to suit the mood and pain level of each individual child, the visits are playful, fun and include magic, singing, music and games. Crucially, this allows a child to be silly and to play – and gives them back some control at a time when they have very little.

In thanking the WCB and Liverymen for their continued support for Theodora, “and all the children we’ve made a difference to” Emily related the real life experience of a 7 year old patient whose mother had been moved to write to thank the Giggle Doctors visiting the Royal Marsden Hospital and for making such a difference to her daughter's time in hospital. The weekly visit of the Giggle Doctors brought such joy and laughter and had become a real highlight and something her daughter looked forward to.

A powerful message indeed.

For further information about Theodora Children’s Charity visit

You can read about the Livery company’s relationship with Theodora.

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Charity is one of the fundamental principles of the Worshipful Company of Butchers.

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