Our Mission & Values

To improve lives and make a real difference by enhancing health, well-being, communication, connection and knowledge through the medium of Laughter

Passion

We are passionate about what we do and believe that laughter is a great medicine and connection opportunity, and work tirelessly to deliver on that belief.

Empathy

We work with children, young adults and their families who are often in very difficult situations. We are highly attuned to making sure our interactions are bespoke and considerate to any situation that an individual or family maybe facing.

Collaboration

We actively seek to work with others to ensure we share and learn as much knowledge as we can in order to advance the positive impact of what we do. We aim to ensure our work encourages opportunities for all partners and individuals to learn from each other.

Inclusive

Laughter is a universal language, which makes it such a powerful antidote for the vast array of circumstances that life can bring. We ensure that our activities are always inclusive and considerate of the diverse needs across our communities.

Trustees & Founders

FOUNDERS

Annie Aris - Founder

Annie Aris
Founder

Patrick Jacobs

Patrick Jacobs
Founder

PATRON

dr-rob

Dr Rob Ross Russell,
Director of Studies in Medicine, Cambridge

AMBASSADORS

Sir David Wright

Sir David Wright
British Diplomat

George Howard

George Howard
Retired Chair

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Edward Rudd

Edward Rudd
Treasurer

Karen Sheairs

Karen Sheairs
Acting Chair

Maddie Gardner

Maddie Gardner
Finance

Daniel

Daniel Ault

Kerinda Trigg

Kerinda Trigg

Joost

Joost Baker

Clare Thompson

Clare Thompson

Mark Ault

Mark Ault

Jason Trigg

Jason Trigg

We could not achieve what we do without the help and support of our fantastic Trustees.

Our Trustees have a wide range of skills, backgrounds, and experience to support us on everything from accountancy to communications. It’s very important to us that our Trustees include parents whose children use our services to help us make sure that we stay focused on what really matters for the children, young people, and families we work with.

Our Impact & Evidence

We connect and interact through fun and laughter with vulnerable children and young people in need. We improve the quality of life for them in hospitals and special schools, and create magical memories for children and families in the darkest of times in hospices.
International research has demonstrated the physiological and psychological benefits of laughter, and the positive impact it brings to overall health and well-being. This knowledge underpins our commitment to our evidence based practice. Many studies have shown that laughter can alleviate symptoms of many ailments and research suggests that humour can lower blood pressure and release endorphins. It is also proven to strengthen the immune system, improve circulation, stimulate the nervous system and strengthen the heart.
We are committed to research and evaluation to ensure that we are able to create real value and impact in the lives of our beneficiaries. We continually measure our impact and seek on-going feedback. 

We also are passionate about working with partners and sharing our drive for new understanding of the work we do and the impact it has.

FAQ's

We are a charity who provides specially trained entertainers and performers that bring fun, laughter and relief to sick and vulnerable children across East Anglia.

The founders Annie Aris and Patrick Jacobs have had many years of experience working in the field of specialised children’s entertainment in hospitals such as Great Ormond Street, Guy’s, St Thomas’s in London and the world renowned Addenbrookes Childrens Hospital – Cambridge as well as others. They have also worked within many special needs centres / schools, hospices and care homes. Their in-depth and wide-ranging experience, has allowed them to hone their skills and understanding to a high level. They often requests to share their valuable insights with a range of both medical and educational practitioners.

We are a charity who provides specially trained entertainers and performers that bring fun, laughter and relief to sick and vulnerable children across East Anglia.

The founders Annie Aris and Patrick Jacobs have had many years of experience working in the field of specialised children’s entertainment in hospitals such as Great Ormond Street, Guy’s, St Thomas’s in London and the world renowned Addenbrookes Childrens Hospital – Cambridge as well as others. They have also worked within many special needs centres / schools, hospices and care homes. Their in-depth and wide-ranging experience, has allowed them to hone their skills and understanding to a high level. They often requests to share their valuable insights with a range of both medical and educational practitioners.

We are Laughter Specialists who provide bespoke interactions through a range of skills which include comedy, clowning, magic, songs, play acting, music, puppets and most importantly improvisation whilst maintaining the utmost sensitivity to the needs of the hospitalised children and other vulnerable groups. Key to our success is our ability to listen, be patient, maintain awareness and offer complete acceptance whilst using our artistic skills to enable laughter, fun and magical moments to flourish in sometimes very difficult situations. We are often called on to deal with some specific difficulty that a child may be having, and are able to engage with that child to alleviate or bring some relief to the tension, anxiety and fear they maybe experiencing. Our strength lies in our ability to accept each individual, whatever their physical, intellectual, emotional or social ability. We engage with them appropriately depending on their needs, individually or in a group setting.

The Laughter Specialists work in, hospices, hospitals Special Needs centres/schools and care homes, in fact anywhere we are required. We are continually looking to expand our much appreciated services into new outlets across East Anglia and the East of England.
We can provide taster sessions for up to an hour or come for a whole morning or afternoon. We can visit individual children in wards, classrooms, or playrooms. We try to be as versatile and adaptable as we can as we understand the constraints and adaptation requirements of caring, so we can change our programme and improvise with our audience in a moment.

If you are inspired by our work and would like to help our charity we would be delighted to hear from you.

From fundraising & supporting at an event, to spreading the word about our work we have a range of opportunities to enable you to support our unique charity. It is very important to us that you enjoy any experience working with us as we appreciate your time is valuable, and are therefore extremely grateful when someone chooses to support us.

We would love to have a chat if this is of interest you and would ask you in the first instance to either call

Annie Aris (Founder) on 07980-570466 or
Email us at fundraisingteam@thelaughterspecialists.co.uk

We are eagerly waiting to hear from you or your organisation.

Firstly you must enjoy working with children, be happy to be silly, and have a passion for fun and laughter . . . the rest we can teach you !!!

As you can imagine the Laughter Specialists have spent many years developing their skills and have learned many things during this time. Therefore their knowledge and experience are essential to shaping our training programme. Our Lead trainer is Annie Aris who as well as being a founder of the charity was the very first female ‘clown’ in the country, and to work in the famous Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. As well as a highly skilled entertainer, she also has childcare qualifications having worked in the childcare and social work sector too. She has also developed her work with special needs children enhancing their language opportunities so if you wanted to explore a career as a Laughter Specialist and decided to sign up you would be in expert hands. To deliver our various training packages we work through our partner Community interest Company ‘Laughter Works Training Academy’ who provide a range of bespoke options to suit your requirements.

Please contact us on 07980-570466 or email us at fun@thelaughterspecialists.co.uk to find out how to you can have a very rewarding career making a real difference.

Since our charity started in 2007 we have been privileged to help over 60,000 children and continue to increase the number of beneficiaries we help. Whilst we are pleased to have reached out to such a high number of children and families, we are always more focussed on the impact and the positive difference we make. Longer term we are aiming to expand our service to a wider geographical area and eventually across the country nationally, but our priority will always be on the quality of our work.

The relief, support and unique moments of fun is our main objective always.

Whilst we originally set up as a children’s charity, and that remains our main area of work we have also provided our services to adults including the elderly and those with special needs.

This is an area of work that we are also looking to expand in the future. We are aware of some amazing research results of the impact of similar work with the elderly and individuals suffering with dementia. We would be happy to discuss these options with you or your organisation if this is an area of our work that is of interest to you.

Daniel Ault

Young Persons Ambassador

Why I support the Laughter Specialists : I support the Laughter Specialists Charitable Trust because I think Annie and the team are amazing. They do some brilliant work making people and children around them laugh , and really making a difference in some difficult
times.

What makes me laugh : The Laughter Specialist crew,. There range of humour and slapstick as well as the funny magic tricks.

Sir David Wright

Sir David Wright

British Diplomat

After retiring from HM Diplomatic Service, David joined Barclays Capital, the investment banking arm of the Barclays group, as Vice Chairman he is responsible for banking client relations in Asia-Pacific and Barclays links with UK government and other public entities. He is also Vice-President of the China-Britain Business Council, a member of the International Advisory Board of All Nippon Airways, and a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is the current Chair at the Korean British Business Council. We are very pleased that Sir David has shown interest and support for the work of our charity.

Dr Rob Ross Russell

Director of Studies in Medicine, Cambridge

“After many years as a consultant paediatrician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, I know how hard it is for children to be stuck at the hospital. For some it is just a visit to the clinic – which itself can be a difficult or traumatic episode – but for many it is an inpatient stay on the wards. Many children are in for just a few days but for some the stay can be very lengthy. Children with cancer, following major trauma, with learning difficulties, or facing major surgery or with long-term conditions like diabetes or cystic fibrosis. For them and their families time passes slowly, and they are often a long way from the friends and even family. The Laughter Specialists address this with their work. They visit these children, and use their skills to bring laughter and smiles to the children and their families. And it is not just light-hearted fun – it works. People have now studied the effect of clowning on the health and recovery of children in hospital and demonstrated that it helps. This was the conclusion of one big analysis that reviewed all the published data on the effect of laughter: We found that hospital clowns play a significant role in reducing stress and anxiety levels in children admitted to hospitals as well as their parents. (Eur J Pediatr (2016) 175:1353–1360) So we know it works, and we know that it is not part of routine NHS funding – so we rely on charities like the Laughter Specialists to help provide this important care. I would encourage you all to support this great team of dedicated people in their important work.”

Patrick Jacobs

Patrick Jacobs

Founder

In 2007, after working with his friend and colleague Annie Aris, as Clown doctors in some world renowned hospitals in the UK, including Great Ormond Street, Guy’s and St Thomas’s, Patrick joined Annie in setting up The Laughter Specialists Charitable Trust. Patrick was already a professional children’s entertainer in his own right, working around the world in various countries, on cruises and also appearing on some UK television shows. He remembers their first visits as the newly formed charity at Addenbrookes Children’s hospital, Cambridge and a special needs school in Braintree and is delighted that they still visit those first places. Patrick is passionate about the work the charity does and the numerous benefits he sees they bring to children and families every week, he particularly enjoys seeing the strength and confidence that the children gain during visits..

He still entertains children and says the Laughter Specialists have proved to be a great adventure for him, giving him many memorable moments of great joy with children in hospital and schools. Patrick says that the children have taught him so many lessons about resilience, tolerance, love and understanding.

Annie Aris

Annie Aris

Founder

Annie Aris decided many years ago that humour and communication through laughter should be an essential part of children’s health and education. She, at an early age was the class clown and was fascinated by how entertaining others gave her a voice. Annie realised that the range of opportunities in performing arts allowed individuals to better communicate and she particularly noted the true value of this for children.
So she began her journey. She studied child psychology, social care, child development and also took some time off and went travelling. This experience across the globe also cemented within her the true value of laughter as a universal language. She recognised it was such a power for well being harmony and health. It provided a unique way to bring people together, reduced barriers and allowed the freedom to express and connect whatever your age, background or abilities
After spending some time in education settings she honed her skills in performing arts and became a children’s entertainer with a real passion for supporting the most vulnerable of children, those very sick and / or disabled who she felt needed to be heard. She became the first female ‘clown doctor’ in the country working at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
She decided she wanted to setup her own charity and wanted to develop the role more than a ‘clown’ and hence the Laughter Specialists Charitable Trust was born. She asked Patrick Jacobs, also a clown doctor and an established children’s entertainer to join her and they set up the charity in 2007.
Annie is the operational and training Lead for the charity but still is very much supporting the frontline where it matters with the children.
She is often asked to deliver talks and training sessions to a range of professionals in Education and Health to explain how she connects with individuals and families as they are keen to understand how to improve their own interactions and recognise the true value it brings to enhancing their own work.

Jason Trigg

Jason Trigg

CEO and Co-Founder - Amberstone Security

Why I support the Laughter Specialists : Having spent much of my working life building businesses I wanted to give back . As an entrepreneur , I wanted to try and help develop the laughter specialists that touches the lives of so many regionally, to expand its work and do so much more and perhaps become a national charity supporting , and bringing Sunshine into the lives of so many more individuals and families, whose lives, for the vast majority of us can’t imagine the situations and pain they are going through.

What makes me laugh : Laughter for me is a great distraction , it helps you forget and actually allows you to be just be in the moment , seeing others laugh, making others laugh , the laughter specialist makes such a big difference to so many life’s.

Mark Ault

Mark Ault

Group Operations Director
Amberstone Security

Why I support the Laugher Specialists : A lot of people find that a shared sense of humour is something that bonds them and that learning what makes each other laugh brings them closer together. Whether it’s because of a funny story, memory, tv show, video or something completely random, laughing is known to lower blood pressure and release endorphins that help make you happy. There is nothing like a smile, just try it now smile and you instantly feel great. The Laughter Specialists Charitable Trust brings happiness to those who are at their lowest point, and for the period of time they spend doing their magic, the child and the family responds and engages as if they were free of the problem and circumstances they are enduring.

What Makes me laugh : Good old dose of laurel and Hardy makes me laugh, visual slapstick really makes me laugh.

Clare Thompson

Clare Thompson

Personal Trainer

Why I support the Laughter Specialists : Laughter is priceless, but what it can do is worth millions. .At LS Charity this is what you see and with the children there is even more richness in the laugh.

What makes me laugh : I enjoy quite simple humour that is never unkind

Kerinda Trigg

Kerinda Trigg

PA to CEO Amberstone
Wife and Mother of 5
Business partner ORIS

Why I support the Laughter Specialists : I support their work because they have the ability to bring “ light to shade” and “brightness to darkness” in the effect they have with children and to families at the darkest of times. bring laughter and light heartedness to any given situation and can make the toughest of times see easier. They bring a travelling smile and gentle breeze of laughter wherever they go.
They are a local charity that make a big and lasting difference in everything they do ❤️

What makes me laugh : I laugh at comedy stand ups like Peter Kay and Ricky Gervais and I laugh when my children do or say something funny. I laugh when I am tickled. Laughing is infectious and makes me happy.

Joost Baker

Joost Baker

Managing Director Containerlift

Why I support the Laughter Specialists : Annie Aris is a childhood friend and I have always been interested in the work she has done. I have been on the receiving end of her entertainment myself when I was recovering from a back operation at Addenbrookes. I became more conscious and appreciative of the work the Laughter Specialists do after become a parent myself. This came in to sharp focus when Heidi, our eldest daughter, had a severe case of croup and was admitted to Addenbrookes Paediatric ICU and placed on a ventilator for 3 days. Although an utterly desperate time for my wife and I, it did make me realise just how incredibly lucky I am. Heidi made a complete and full recovery (although I do wonder sometimes as she is a clown) however there were some really heart breaking cases. Life can be incredibly cruel yet at the same time people can be so incredibly kind so that’s why I love the work this charity does.

What makes me laugh : Well it use to be Little Britain and Fawlty Towers but we are not supposed to find such things funny anymore! What makes me laugh the most is acting like a kid when I am playing with my kids. One of the best things about having kids is that you can act like one without feeling like an idiot….too much.

Maddie Gardner

Madeleine Gardner - Finance officer

Director
Investment Advisor Co.

Why I support the Laughter Specialists : As a mother I know how precious our children are and I cannot imagine being in some of the difficult circumstances families / parents or careers find themselves in when their children are very sick, have life threatening conditions and/or are diagnosed with disabilities etc. I support the Laughter Specialists to enable their amazing staff brighten the lives of the very special children and families they work with.

What makes me laugh : Bad jokes, generally the more childish the better, and my daughter adorably trying to learn how to hula hoop.

Karen Sheairs

Karen Sheairs - Acting Chair

Event Organiser
Special Needs Advisor (parent expert)

Why I support the Laughter Specialists : I love supporting The Laughter Specialists for all the times they supported us as a family in hospital and at home . Our son Joel had a unique sense of humour and Annie in particular picked up on this as  soon as she met him and created some magical times for us all. . It was very special to watch and I look back at photos and it sings great memories . ❤️

What makes me laugh : my friends & family for sure , but I love kids minds and the way they speak without worry and say it as it is , so often find myself laughing lots with them. 

Edward Rudd

Edward Rudd - Treasurer

Business Investment Director
Berry Bros & Rudd

Why I support the Laughter Specialists : I find it hard to think of anything better than bringing laughter to children who are profoundly ill or have suffered a terrible accident. Children who find themselves in a very horrible and painful situation through no fault of their own. Laughter breaks down emotional barriers and is a language everybody can speak, this is why I support the Laughter Specialists in their fabulous work.

What makes me laugh : I love slapstick, nothing funnier to me than the slip on a banana skin or walking into the door, it brings out the child in me, which isn’t very well hidden at the best of times.

George Howard

George Howard

Retired Chair

George retired in 1995 after spending most of his career in the Linen & Textile industry specialising in the Men’s Clothing sector. He facilitated sales as an agent across the UK and EU.
He first met Annie in 2000 when she was working as a clown doctor, and his Rotary Club was supporting their work.
When Annie and Patrick later in 2007 launched the charity he became involved in following their progress with interest. He has always been a strong advocate of their work and has served on their Trustee Board, and has also held the role of Chair.. He has recently stepped down from this position but has agreed to stay on as an honorary ambassador.

bug-round

Please click on any of our Founders or Trustees to find out more...