Malahide girl’s legacy lives on as Aoife’s Clown Doctors bring joy to children’s rewards

This month marks the tenth anniversary of 5-year-old Malahide girl, Aoife Hendrick, who sadly passed away to leukemia in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in August 2012.

hanks to her loving parents, Aoife has left a legacy behind in the form of Aoife’s Clown Doctors, a group of actors and performers who entertain sick children in a number of children’s hospitals nationwide.

Aoife’s mum, Aine explains: “The backstory is Aoife is my daughter, so this time ten years ago she was diagnosed with leukemia.

“She was in Crumlin over that summer from 15th May till the 13th August. At that time it was different back then, it was the old ward and it was all doctors and nurses and medicines and infections and horror.”

Aine explains that “the only bit of light coming into the darkness” of St John’s wards, was the Clown Doctors. Aoife just “loved” the visits, Aine says, and the hilarity the mischievous Doctors would spread to the young patients. In fact, as ill as she was, the Clown Doctors would light up her day.

Aine says that Aoife’s face “lit up” when the clown doctors arrived, and she looked forward to seeing them every Tuesday morning in Our Lady’s Hospital.

Unfortunately, after a brave battle with her illness, Aoife passed away on August 30 2012.

Aine says: “In 2014 we were doing something to remember her by and at that stage I realised that the Clown Doctors had lost their funding. So we raised a bit of money as the Hendrick family, we just wanted enough money for the summer and it progressed into now we’re a charity since 2018.

“So the clown doctors do exactly what they did then, they are going into Crumlin, into Temple Street, they go to LauraLynn, we are now also in Galway, in St Bernadette’s.”

Aine explains that the Clown Doctors make a real difference not just for the children in hospital, but for their families too, who are delighted to see them smiling again.

The Clown Doctors inject a little fun into proceedings by mimicking staff, carrying out parodies of medical procedures, and generally causing mayhem on the ward.

Speaking of the reactions of some of the children, Aine says: “Their eyes light up, there are some children that it might take a few visits for them to get used to the clowns. So they have to read the situation and that’s why they’re actors because they’re good at improvisation.

“They’ll also interact with the staff so they know so they work with the hospital. It might take one or two visits, because a lot of children might be in long-term, so they get to know them and build up a relationship with them.

“They cause havoc, so it’s just something a bit different and it opens up the ward to a bit of fun. The doctors love them and the consultants love them, and they’re very well received throughout the hospitals.”

The Clown Doctors are indeed a fitting legacy for Aoife, who without doubt is still smiling down.

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