Tuesday, 5 March 2024
Tuesday, 5 March 2024

Spread a Smile awarded ‘for significant contribution to magic’

Spread a Smile has been chosen as the recipient of The Magic Circle’s Martin Chapender Award, which recognises the charity’s services to the community, using magic, following in the footsteps of previous winners, Breathe AHR, who use magic as a form of physiotherapy, and The College of Magic, who use it to empower disadvantaged children.

Spread a Smile’s team of 17 amazing magicians regularly visit seriously ill children and young people in hospital, bringing the wonder, distraction and fun of magic directly onto the wards of its 27 NHS hospital partners. The charity’s magicians also deliver virtual sessions, enabling Spread a Smile to reach even more children across the country in groups or at home.

Every year, The Magic Circle recognises leading magicians who have made significant contributions to the art of magic, including top performers, historians, authors, and those who have served the magic community. Their ‘Martin Chapender Award’ recognises services to the community using magic and celebrates the power of magic to have a positive effect on all who experience it.

Megan Swann, President of The Magic Circle said:

“As a performance art, magic is designed to bring joy to those who watch, which is also what makes it such a powerful tool for community work. I am delighted to recognise the truly magical work Spread a Smile does to bring joy young people at their most difficult times, with this year’s Martin Chapender award for services to the community using magic.”

During a magical evening, Spread a Smile co-founders Josephine Segal and Vanessa Crocker joined The Magic Circle for a special Awards ceremony and to receive their award, saying:

“It is an absolute honour for Spread a Smile to receive The Magic Circle, Martin Chapender Award, in recognition of the incredible work our magicians do every day spreading smiles to seriously ill children and young people in hospital and at home. Thank you to The Magic Circle for shining a light on the role of our Spread a Smile magic across hospital wards up and down the country.”

Magic has always played a key role in Spread a Smile’s work and the charity was founded in 2013 by Josephine Segal and Vanessa Crocker after seeing the positive impact a magician’s visit had on Josephine’s young nephew, Aaron, during his treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Aaron had become increasingly withdrawn, so Josephine arranged for a magician to visit and it had the most remarkable effect.

Aaron’s spirits were lifted and his treatment became more bearable. As a result, Aaron asked if magicians could also visit friends that he’d met on the ward, but hospital regulations made this impossible. Undeterred, Josephine promised Aaron she would find a way to make it happen. She teamed up with friend and former colleague Vanessa Crocker and working closely with GOSH, they founded Spread a Smile.

Ten years on, magic remains a core part of the Spread a Smile offer, offering so much fun and enjoyment to the families that they support with one parent recently saying:

“Jack loved Mr Magic and all the Spread a Smile magicians. The consistency of seeing them in different hospitals really helped him to cope with his illness and treatment. During Proton Beam Therapy, we stay away from home for over 6 weeks and feel really isolated. Our Spread a Smile visits helped us to meet other families and really gave us something to look forward to.”

To find out more about Spread a Smile’s work supporting seriously ill children and their families across the UK, please visit www.spreadasmile.org.


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