Quentin 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.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an additional layer of concerns, besides those always experienced by children and their families about surgery. In order to treat 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, which is why Quentin stepped in to help. The project is the latest in a long line of artworks he has created specially for hospital settings - from older adults' mental health wards, to maternity units and children's wards in hospitals throughout the UK.
Amazing Fred in Southampton will 'follow' children throughout their operation journey, with his image displayed at locations within theatres. He will also appear on certificates and stickers that they can take home following their operation.
Speaking about how he chose the name for his character, 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 commented “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.”