The REAL Super Heroes of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton
Everyone wants to be a Super Hero don’t they?
Super Heroes are so popular right now, with Marvel and DC vying for the top of the film charts ~ and also with the sad passing of Stan Lee last month ~ it’s no surprise that people dream of having super human powers; SuperMan’s flying ability, Wonder Woman’s speed, reflexes and agility and Iron Man’s techno gadgets.
However, I have spent the last four months meeting some amazing children who possess REAL super human strength, fight and determination.
The REAL Super Heroes
After initially being inspired by the incredible Los Angeles based photographer and digital artist, Josh Rossi, I first approached my lovely friend, and Super Mum, Debbie, about photographing her beautiful son, Finley. Read about that shoot here.
I must admit this wasn’t totally altruistic – the feeling of pure joy I got from creating these images and then presenting Finley with his final image and seeing his total gratitude inspired me to do more of them.
The AMAZING Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton
But the biggest project I took on was visiting long-term patients at the Royal Alexander Children’s Hospital in Brighton. Along with the official fundraising team at Rockinghorse and the Royal Alex Play Therapist’s, the amazing videographer that is James Boyce of InLine Productions and I, The Photography Boutique, embarked on this epic photoshoot.
The aim was simple; to bring a smile to children going through hard times; to raise awareness of various illnesses; to show the world that you don’t need a mask, a cape or a big heavy hammer to be a Super Hero. Sometimes, just enduring what life throws at you (and doing it all with a smile) is Super Human!
For the outfits, I begged, borrowed and stole (from my own munchkins – they haven’t noticed yet!!!) and just gave each child the choice of which Super Hero they most identified with. The results were very interesting…
Imogen (& Sonny)
Imogen (2 yrs old) underwent a double lung transplant at GOSH, aged just 5 months old! She now suffers with severe anxiety so really loves coming to the Play Therapy Centre.
“She is our Super Hero… our little miracle.
The condition she was born with, she wasn’t meant to survive”~ Hayley, Imogen’s Mum
After an initial reticence to be photographed, Imogen was great fun, playfully hitting her brother Sonny, with ‘Thor’s Hammer’ whilst dressed as Iron Man. She also had an outfit change and tried out Wonder Woman too.
Like Tony Stark needs the ARC receptor to keep him alive, so Imogen is powered from within, by her strong lungs. She also had a serious side and a cheeky side to her, just like Mr Stark.
The playfulness between Imogen and her brother, Sonny, was so lovely to see and Sonny made a fabulous Batman too.
At our shoot Imogen was two but I was so pleased to be able to present her with her beautiful final image on her 3rd birthday (below).
Charlie (& George)
Charlie (10 months old) was born at 24 weeks and since being so premature, has developed eating difficulties.
Charlie was extremely cute but because we couldn’t find any costumes that would suitably fit him ~ and he was already in a nappy ~ we decided to make him into Captain Underpants. However, I wasn’t keen on the final result so made him into Super Boy too! LOL!
“He inspires the whole family…
I wouldn’t cope as well as he does but he still gives you a big smile at the end of it”~ Sasha, Charlie’s Mum
Brother George was a strong Batman and both capes were flying for this family. It was so so lovely to present these two with their images last week – Charlie literally bounced up and down in his jumperoo when he saw his image. Haha.
Spencer, (6 yrs old) has childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. ALL is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).
“We actually call him Super Spencer at home, like a Super Hero!”~ Claire, Spencer’s Mum
Even though he was wearing his Avengers hoodie, Spencer was very nervous in front of the camera but he managed to make a stern, very strong face so I thought I’d turn him into The Incredible Hulk.
Amara (& Bella)
Amara (18months old) has spent 16 of those months in hospital. She was born with a brain injury, that caused chronic lung disease and lots of other conditions.
Amara doesn’t like other people (including Doctors) but she was a great little model on the day, especially supported by her amazing big sister, Bella.
“It’s hard work. She’s had to get over her fear of people and she’s always ill”~ Lauren, Amara’s Mum
Bella came in a Princess dress and her hair beautiful plaited so I had to do a girly photo first, naturally.
But once Bella became Wonder Woman, she was so strong for her sister, giving her kisses on her cheek and holding her up for a joint photo.
Izzy is such a happy, smiley character and it was so much fun photographing her. Unfortunately, having been born healthy, Izzy developed brain damage at 7 months old, due a metabolic condition no-one knew she had. She has since spent A LOT of time in hospital (over 240 days last year and 100 this year… and counting. She’s had 41 (FOURTY ONE!!!) surgeries but still she smiles on through.
Her enthusiasm was infectious and her smile said that she was strong and confident and could ~ and would ~ take on the World. I loved her.
“Many people don’t like seeing the wheel chair but that is Izzy’s legs – it’s what makes her who she is.”~ Nat, Izzy’s Mum
Unfortunately I missed presenting Izzy with her final image as she went back into hospital the week I was due to deliver it. Wishing you a speedy stay Izzy and I really really hope you are home in time for Christmas.
S & S
Unfortunately I can’t share any information about these two but just let it be known that they are two of the BIGGEST Super Heroes at RACH and such fun to photograph.
The Play Team at RACH
Even the Play Team got in on the act! Amy and her team help children through their medical procedures using play. They are an invaluable part of the children’s hospital and all the children evidently love visiting the 10th floor to see them.
I’d like to thank The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, the Play Therapy Centre and Rockinghorse for having me along.
I’d also like to say a HUGE thank you to James for putting the film together for me – I absolutely LOVE it and made sharing it for awareness and empowerment one of the most humbling and joyful things I have ever done.
Of course, finally, I need to thank all the Children that came to see me at the RACH – massive thanks to
~ Imogen, Sonny & Hayley
~ Charlie, George & Sasha
~ Amara, Bella & Lauren
~ Spencer & Claire
~ Izzy & Natalie
~ S & S
Whether you are in hospital or home for Christmas, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a healthy 2019.
We are ALL SUPER HEROES!!
Photographer: Sally Beard, The Photography Boutique
Videographer: James Boyce, InLine Productions
Department: The Play Therapy Centre, Level 10