It’s Dr. Silly Billy who says ‘the diagnosis is sadness and the only cure is happiness’, but behind that red nose is Paul Wilson, who lives by the phrase ‘laughter is the best medicine’.
Paul has worked at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead as the clown for over seven years and has now added Tour Coordinator to his repertoire.
“It’s about breaking the tension in the room to inject a bit of fun into what can be a pretty serious environment,” Paul said.
“If you can break it and make the child laugh, then the adult sees the child is happy and they relax; and when the parent is happy the child is happy – it has a feedback effect and it is amazing to see that happen in the room.”
With Paul’s dual role as tour coordinator and clown, there are times you will see him in formal attire and others when he’s wearing a silly outfit for the benefit of the kids.
“One day they’ll see me sitting here in a business shirt and the next I’ve got a red nose on and I’m out in the wards, so I juggle both jobs, literally,” he laughed.
“You get people walking past me and they ask if they know me, and I say that I’ve normally got a red nose on.”
In his newly-acquired role he is able to extend his love for the hospital beyond the children and onto the students, training professionals and guests that he takes around the Hospital.
“It’s about really communicating to people what a wonderful place this is and how much of a difference that it makes to the kids in their journey to good health.”
In Paul’s seven and a half year tenure at Westmead he admits that he has seen some pretty confronting things, though with his previous experience as a professional actor he says it is a satisfying career.
“It has its moments,” Paul admitted.
“A lot of people say to me that they couldn’t do what I do because you do see some confronting things, but all of us performers come from various disciplines of performing and for me being a professional actor for years, it is like I am using my skills for good,” he said.
“Because some of the [acting] jobs you would do weren’t satisfying, but this one is rewarding and challenging.”
One of these moments was when Paul and his colleague walked into a teenager’s room who had recently suffered a head trauma and was in a state of non-emotion.
“He had like a fibreglass helmet on, and we were trying things but he was giving us nothing.”
Paul continued to try things that have been successful previously, but is very aware of the differing tastes of humour.
“What worked in one room won’t work in the next, so you have to find out what tickles the funny bone of each kids,” he said.
“Anyway, I’ve pretended to walk through the wall and bumped my nose, he’s laughed out loud and his mum let us know that he’s been here for three weeks and he hasn’t smiled and you’ve made him laugh, so that was a massive turn around.”
Paul is a shining example of the hard work and effort that is put in behind the scenes at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and is one of many who will be recognised in the Bandaged Bear Cup against the Bulldogs on August 15 at ANZ Stadium.
If there is one thing that sums up Paul’s philosophy on life, it is that humour goes a long way.
“It’s not like making sausages, it’s always fresh.”