When children lose those closest to them, they need specialist help and support – which is what ellenor specialises in providing to the families of those who have passed away in our care. What’s extraordinary is to see the human spirit’s capacity to cope, to continue and to thrive – even in the toughest of circumstances. With ellenor’s help, teenager Liam – whose mother, Debra, was in ellenor’s care in 2019 - continues to find much joy in life, with magic his speciality.
If 13-year-old Liam could be summed up in four words they would be lively, loveable, confident and energetic. “I understand a lot about me,” he says emphatically. “I have a very creative mind and a big imagination. I grew up making little stage sets with my Grandad, and I always loved the theatre – seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with my mum when I was younger was a real highlight, and I’d love to be a stage actor when I’m older. Unlike most people of my age, I’m not into video games and I’m not a massive fan of sport. Instead, I create my own worlds – and that’s where magic comes in.”
So how did Liam get into magic in the first place? “When I was little, I got the standard Christmas gift of a magic set. Me and my Dad looked at it, but the instructions were complicated. Once my Dad talked me through them, though, and I started experimenting with the tricks, I got really good at it. I showed Mum and all the family and the reactions were amazing. I just thought, ‘WOW - magic is incredible! Then I saw a magic show on TV – with people like Ben Hart and Paul Daniels - and it really inspired me to learn more tricks.”
Liam says it’s the creativity around magic that particularly appeals to him: “the stories that you can invent around different tricks and effects mean loads of possibilities.” Also, there’s the constant buzz that comes from people’s reactions: “You make people smile out of something that you do. My favourite audience is adults because they tend to appreciate the visual effects of card tricks – my speciality.”
When Liam’s mother, Debra, was under ellenor’s care in our in-patient unit, Liam’s winning way with a pack of cards kept staff, other patients and their visiting families entertained, laughing and guessing with his impressive talents. He also went on to perform his card tricks for one of ellenor’s many support groups. “It was a lot of fun - I really enjoyed and the audience seemed to, too!”
A big moment for Liam was winning a local talent show, where he performed in front of 500 people, but more recently he’s been winning a new audience via his postings on Instagram.
“I couldn’t perform live because of lockdown, so I’ve filmed my tricks and put them on Instagram instead,” Liam explains. “I think my older sister Milly gets a bit annoyed with my constant magic chat, but my dad loves it. We have conversations all the time about ideas, my magic friends and how we can make the impossible look possible when I’m doing my tricks.
While meeting other magicians and finding new fans via Instagram has been a major plus for Liam, he’s also used his time and talents to raise funds for ellenor. “I’ve asked people to donate if they like viewing my tricks on Instagram and so far I’ve raised £1,400.”
Why was he so keen to support the charity? “ellenor doesn’t get any government support and the people who work there do amazing things. If they don’t get money, they won’t be able to give the care to other people.”
Liam says he’ll never forget the support his family got from ellenor when they needed it most: “The nurses make that place magical because they are always there and they are so lovely. They support everyone, young and old. They supported not just my mum when she was ill, but our whole family. I had music therapy, which was really good. I don’t play instruments, really, but it didn’t matter - you can play whatever you want and get your emotions out, with no-one judging you.”
Liam is very keen to stress the importance of creativity for young people, whatever their interest or circumstances, and whatever level of support they do or don’t enjoy:“If you are passionate about something, just find your own way of doing it and make it yours,” he urges.
Everyone at ellenor wishes Liam every success and looks forward to finding out what the future holds for him.