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Meet our viral sensation, Mr Magic

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Spread a Smile magician and viral sensation Mr Magic is hoping his newfound social media fame will continue to bring positivity and joy to those who need it and remind people just how powerful laughter and smiles can be.

Mr Magic’s clip of a cheeky magic wand that refused to be put away earned a rippling,  unfettered belly laugh of giggles from a child he met in hospital, and currently has more than four million views and over 380,000 likes on Instagram alone (@spreadasmileuk)! The film has also helped take Spread a Smile’s followers from just over 6,000 to 20,000 in two months.

Mr Magic, real name Ian Manly, says: I’ve always thought how wonderful it would be to bottle a child’s amazing laugh, and now we’ve done it.

“I knew it was a great video as there is nothing better than a child laughing. Add in the fact that this child was quite unwell in a hospital, and it just makes it such a strong and emotional piece of film.

“It’s received comments from all around the world with so many people saying, ‘I’m keeping this and will play it every time I need cheering up’. It’s a very proud moment when you realise how much it has positively affected people’s lives.”

Ian began working for Spread a Smile 11 years ago, when Co-Founders Josephine Segal and Vanessa Crocker set up the charity.

He recalls: It was very small then and the only hospital we visited was Great Ormond Street – and that was once a month.

“I was referred to Josephine and Vanessa by Vanessa’s sister, who had seen me do a magic show. Once I met Josephine and Vanessa I had no hesitation in joining Spread a Smile and have been there ever since, watching with great pride as their determination and hard work ensured it has grown into what it is today.”

“Magic has always fascinated children, who love tapping into their creative imaginations. People think it’s easy to do magic for children, but it’s not. There is so much more going on in a simple children’s magic trick than the actual trick itself. Everyone wants to ‘believe’ and the child has to follow the story and what is happening. The words you use are vital – and of course they need to be entertained continually throughout the trick. Plus, a good trick for one child may not even be a good trick for another child the same age. For me, entertainment is the most important factor.”

All of Spread a Smile’s entertainers bring their own talents, skills and expertise to help spread a little happiness to seriously ill children and young people in hospital and online at home.

Ian says: “The video is as close as anyone can possibly get to actually being in the same room to see the massive difference we make. It’s not unusual to create this laughter and it happens often. The wonderment and fun created by Spread a Smile’s singers, fairies, magicians, musicians, poets and therapy dogs shows on every visit. And not just for the children, but for the parents, grandparents, siblings and friends who are at the hospital and are all heavily involved in their journey too. It is our mission to ‘Spread a Smile’ to everyone and I hope the message taken from the film is that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope.”

The film has helped raise huge awareness about Spread a Smile and it’s work in NHS hospitals and hospices across the country, with the growth in audience meaning the charity can reach even more people who need their help. It is also clear from the 4,000+ comments on the film, that the film has been helpful to so many people, helping to spread smiles across the world.

“It’s wonderful to think that people around the world are playing the film over and over and it’s helping them through difficult times. Sometimes the simplest things can make the world of difference to someone.”

Now that really is what we call magic!

if you haven’t already seen the film, head over to @spreadasmileuk on Instagram, Facebook or X, or watch below.

To support our work spreading smiles, please donate here

A special visit from Magic Singh

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Last week we were delighted to welcome the amazing Amardeep Singh Dhanjal, aka Magic Singh, for a visit to St Mary’s Hospital, London to entertain young patients on the wards.

Amardeep joined our Director of Services, Laura Walter to help spread some joy and wonder through the art of magic to children and young people receiving treatment at the hospital. It really was a very special visit.

After his visit, Amardeep said, “This was my first hospital visit… and it certainly won’t be the last. It was truly magical to see a smile on the child’s face. That’s real Magic.”

Amardeep began his magic career at the age of 11 after receiving a deck of trick cards from his parents at Christmas. By 15, he was a fully-fledged member of the esteemed ‘The Young Magician’s Circle’, with full membership of the elite ‘The Magic Circle’ following at the age of 18. Today, Amardeep travels the world with his magic, and has an incredible following, including over 2.1million followers on TikTok alone.

Spread a Smile’s Laura Walter said of the visit, “We’re so grateful to Amardeep for joining us at St Mary’s Hospital and sharing his incredible talents with some of the children and young people we support. Magic is a wonderful art form which can help distract our families from the pain and worry of treatment and illness, even if just for a moment. It was a pleasure to watch Amardeep at work and to have the opportunity to share our work with him. We hope this is the first of many more visits to come.” 

Please click here to find out more about our work entertaining and spreading joy to seriously ill children and young people in hospital and at home.

The Magic Circle recognises Spread a Smile

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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.

This year Spread a Smile is delighted and proud to be the chosen as the recipient for the Martin Chapender Award, 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.

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.”

Last night, 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.”

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 our 27 NHS hospital partners. Our magicians also deliver virtual sessions, enabling us to reach even more children across the country in groups or at home.

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 and we haven’t looked back, with magic remaining a core part of our work, bringing so much fun and enjoyment to the families we support. As one parent said,

“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, read on here.

Meet Magic Nick

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Meet Nick, the Magician, aka ‘Magic Nick’ and our newest recruit to the Spread a Smile team of entertainers.

Nick became interested in magic from a young age, sharing his natural talent for all things magic with family and friends at every opportunity. He is now a full-time Magician and we spoke to Nick about why he decided to use his skills to help spread smiles to some of the seriously ill children and young people we support.

“My journey with Spread a Smile started because of a personal connection. I have two nephews, both of whom spend time in and out of hospital, including Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

“It was my youngest nephew’s second birthday during one hospital visit to GOSH and knowing this, one of the nurses arranged for a virtual visit with a Spread a Smile Fairy. The session was like pure magic. For 30 minutes, the clinical hospital room felt like a space in which we could celebrate. The sounds of the machines faded into the background and instead the room was filled with songs, cheer and most importantly, laughter.

“Not long after that Spread a Smile visited my nephew in person, and I was delighted to see it was a magician who came to visit. My nephew absolutely loved it and so did his older brother.

“For the boys’ Mum, it was a welcome change from the medical side of hospital. Seeing your child unwell is difficult for any parent and as their Uncle, I found it extremely challenging. You feel helpless. So when someone like Spread a Smile visits whose only job is to bring joy and laughter, it is incredible. You can escape, even if it’s just for a short time and you’re reminded how to be a child again.

“From that moment I knew I had to get involved with Spread a Smile as a Magician and I am so proud to now have the opportunity to join the team and go into hospitals to help make children laugh when they really need it. It is some of the most rewarding work I have ever done – leaving a visit and hearing the heartfelt thanks from a parent, guardian or the child themselves. There is nothing like it and I feel privileged to be able to help in some way.”

Please help us continue our vital work spreading smiles to children in hospital by donating today. Thank you.