A TEAM of clowns who try to cheer up sick children have started working at a North-East hospital.

The Clown Doctors, who have been entertaining children in hospitals in the region for 12 years, are running a pilot project at the University Hospital of North Durham’s Treetops ward.

Funded by the Children’s Foundation, the entertainment by Tin Arts is aimed at relieving young patients of their fears, making the hospital experience less stressful.

Dan Notley, health play specialist at the Treetops ward, said: “It’s an excellent initiative. I’ve worked with Clown Doctors in other hospitals so I know the benefits they provide.

“Hospital can be an isolating experience, so it’s nice to be able to young patients a little bit of fun and enjoyment.”

Among the first patients to meet the Clown Doctors was Archie Clarke, four, who broke his leg at the weekend. Roxanne Ives, Archie’s mum, said: “It’s brilliant. It’s such a good idea. It’s tough keeping them entertained. After a few days in he’s getting pretty bored.”

Clown Doctor Pady O’Connor, who goes by the name of Dr Johan Cherrywolf, said: “We’ve been keen to be here for a long time. They know it works at other hospitals.

“Our first day has been brilliant.”