By Bridget Cook
TIM Webster knows better than anyone else the difference a spoon full of laughter can make to a sick child.
That is why the Kooweerup clown volunteers his time each weekend to bring a smile to the faces of the young people in the Children’s Ward at Casey Hospital.
Having survived cancer himself when he was younger, Mr Webster – better known as Timbadim the Clown – knows the huge difference a big red nose, crazy outfit and mind-blowing magic tricks can make for the young patients.
While Mr Webster has only been volunteering at Casey Hospital for the past three months, his role as a “humanitarian clown” stems back well before then.
“I’ve been a humanitarian clown for the past eight years, bringing smiles and laughter to children all around the world,” he said.
It all started after Mr Webster was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of two and continued treatment until he was five-years-old.
It was the support he received during his own illness that led him to want to “give something back”.
He became a leader on Challenge Camps that he had once attended when he was ill himself and about eight years ago he struck up a conversation with a magician who had performed for the camp.
“You could see in the kids’ faces when he performed that they weren’t thinking about their illness for once and were just laughing and being kids,” he said.
“I ended up having a chat with him and got ideas about how I could do what he does.”
With some tips from the magician and many internet tutorials and magic books, Mr Webster hit the birthday party circuit, but something wasn’t right.
“I became depressed,” he said.
“I hated performing for money with expectations.” Mr Webster then packed up his clown costume and magic tricks and set off on his first self-funded trip to a remote village in Africa.
“I started performing little magic shows in poor, remote villages,” he said.
“The children just loved it.”
Since then, Mr Webster has travelled around Africa, Asia, India and, most recently, Costa Rica to bring a smile to the faces of disadvantaged children.
This year Mr Webster decided to find something closer to home and that’s when he found the position at Casey Hospital.
Mr Webster said he enjoyed bringing his humour to the children at the hospital.
“The main thing is to focus on connecting with the child and their family,” he said. Next Monday is World Volunteer Day and Mr Webster said everyone should consider volunteering in their community.
“From a clown side of things, help bring some smiles and laughter to your community,” he said.
“Even if it means wearing your underpants over your normal pants!”
By Bridget Cook