A WORLD renowned children’s illustrator 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 by Sir Quentin Blake as a theatre mascot for children at the hospital.

The aim is to help children dealing with their anxieties, which have been heightened by nurses and doctors having to wear PPE since the COVID-19 outbreak.

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.

Daily Echo:

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Sir Quentin Blake agreed to create a character for the project.

It will now be a mascot for children coming to the children’s hospital theatres.

He 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.