Sir Quentin Blake creates bespoke character for Southampton Children's Hospital

World renowned children’s illustrator Sir Quentin Blake has created a new character exclusively for Southampton Children’s Hospital to help reassure youngsters undergoing operations during the coronavirus pandemic.

‘The Amazing Fred’ has been designed as a theatre mascot for children with the aim of helping them deal with their anxieties – heightened by nurses and doctors having to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Amazing Fred with Joe

When a child needs to go into hospital for an operation it’s always an anxious time for them and their families, but the COVID-19 pandemic has created an additional layer of concerns. As well as the fear of contracting the virus or passing it on, in order to treat the patients safely staff need to wear personal protective equipment which can seem intimidating. This can also mean that children are unable to clearly see the faces of the doctors and read their facial expressions.

This issue prompted the staff at Southampton Children’s Hospital to explore new ways of using artwork to help make the theatre environment a more welcoming space for children.

They were delighted when world renowned children’s illustrator Sir Quentin Blake agreed to create a character for the project. Quentin has named the character ‘The Amazing Fred’ and he will now be a mascot for children coming to the children’s hospital theatres.  

Amazing FredHe will follow children throughout their operation journey, with his image displayed at locations within theatres. The Amazing Fred will also appear on certificates and stickers that they can take home following their operation.

One of the first youngsters to meet The Amazing Fred was Joe Vibert who was in hospital recovering from an endoscopy which led to him being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.

Joe, 11, lives in Jersey with his parents Lorianne, 41, and Gary, 49, and his sisters Barley, 10, Willow, 7 and three-year-old brother Fred.

Joe, who left Les Landes School this year and is due to start school at Les Quennevais, had flown over for the procedure with Lorianne, whose parents live in Romsey.

She said that meeting The Amazing Fred was “the highlight of our stay” and they hoped to leave hospital and return home this week.

Speaking about how he chose the name for his character, Sir Quentin said: “I have been involved in hospital projects and they have been very enjoyable.  So, when Southampton Children’s Hospital approached me, I found it was irresistible.

“So, we come to Fred. Fred is a name that I like and I think it is one that everyone can say; and I believe that any creature with several legs has as much right to be called Fred as any of the rest of us.”

Dr Mandi Mortier, specialist registrar in paediatric anaesthetics, is part of the team that initiated the project. She said “We were thrilled when Sir Quentin agreed to create a character for us.

“It’s so important to us that we do all we can to make the theatres a more welcoming environment for children, especially during the coronavirus outbreak when anxiety levels are heightened.

“Quentin is such a well-loved illustrator and his work is so recognisable and relatable to children of all ages we are sure that having The Amazing Fred as our new mascot will help reassure the patients, not only during this especially difficult time but also going forward.

“We are very grateful to Sir Quentin for taking part in this project.”

Posted on Thursday 30 July 2020