Laughter is the best medicine say ‘clown doctors’

LAUGHTER really is the best medicine according to two ‘clown doctors’ who specialise in entertaining sick children.

The Laughter Specialists, aka Annie Aris and Patrick Jacobs, have been working as entertainers for nearly 13 years but need donations and volunteers to help their charity grow.

They have received support from Children in Need, The Evelyn Trust and the Great Dunmow Round Table to deliver their unique brand of ‘laughter medicine’ in hospitals and schools.

But they also want to branch out more to hospices and care homes so they can entertain adults with learning difficulties and children with special needs.

Mrs Aris, from Ashdon, has been a clown for 15 years, and said she always wanted to work with children to encourage fun and laughter.

“It’s very challenging because you don’t know what you’re going to get but the rewards are fantastic,” she said.

Part of the work they have done was at the burns unit at Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford, where Mrs Aris said there was a “little lad with complete burns sitting on his mum’s knee, who was hysterical about the treatment”.

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“Patrick came over at just the right time. He started singing on his guitar and just being generally silly to try and make the boy laugh.

“It took about five minutes but when he started giggling it was so rewarding to see.”

The Laughter Specialists have together been performing their unique brand of magic, songs and play acting with children and parents for several years, but on a more official basis - as a charity - for about two years.

And they believe the demand for their services has reached the point where they need more donations and support from volunteers to help grow the charity and reach out to more people.

Children in Need awarded them a grant of �30,000 to entertain at Broomfield Hospital once a week over the next three years, while The Evelyn Trust donated �20,000 to bring fun and laughter to the children’s ward at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Mr Jacobs, from Great Bardfield, said: “We are visiting hospitals, special needs centres, hospices, care homes and other institutions to present our mix of play acting, clowning, jokes, magic, music and most importantly improvisations.

“In the future we aim to have a team of trained Laughter Specialists visiting many centres but we need the help of more trustees and volunteers,” he said.

For more information about helping out at the Laughter Specialists’ events, donating to the charity and acting as a trustee, visit