Magic is proving just the trick for boosting the confidence and self-esteem of NHS patients struggling with their mental health.
Eamonn McClurey, one of our community health and learning disability nurses, volunteers as a magician in his spare time – using his skills to help others around the Trust sites.
“It’s all about showing our patients how to do something others can’t. It really helps boost self-esteem and makes them more confident too. It’s lovely to see,” he said.
“We’ve seen some amazing results. One man with autism really excelled at card tricks. He hadn’t spoken for years but ended up doing tricks for the doctors.”
A magical childhood
Eamonn, 51, was born in Easington Village, but later moved to Middlesbrough and was inspired to take up the craft after watching local magician Paul Daniels on TV.
He then followed in Paul’s footsteps to join Middlesbrough Circle of Magicians – and has been performing ever since.
“My very earliest memory of seeing a magic trick was as a child, when someone recited the Two Little Dicky Birds rhyme and made their thumbs disappear,” he said.
“It was amazing to me at the time, and my interest was born. I was quite shy back then, but learning magic and putting on shows really helped to boost my confidence.”
Eamonn went from performing simple tricks for his family, to taking part in charity events and shows across the region.
His talents even helped him become a holiday camp entertainer – but magic was not to be his full-time future career. Instead, his ambitions lay in a very different direction.
“As a child I was heavily involved with different charities and worked a lot with young people who struggled with their mental health,” said Eamonn.
“I also used to help take children with learning disabilities away on holiday, as part of a Fellowship group, which I loved. I realised then that I wanted to help others.”
Magic opened way for wizard future
Magic came in handy for Eamonn when he applied to study nursing at Teesside Uni – as he performed a trick during the interview to show his passion for the job.
After completing his studies he joined TEWV as a nurse at Aysgarth, a respite unit for complex needs, before moving to an assessment and treatment unit five years later.
Eamonn has spent the past eight years with South Tees Learning Disability team, at Flatts Lane in Middlesbrough – but still draws on his magic skills to support others.
“I started off doing a few tricks for patients, which progressed to people asking me to do a little show. After that, there were charity events and fun days,” he said.
“I wanted to get our patients involved, to teach them how to do their own tricks, and it kind of took off from there. It really helps to improve self-esteem and mental health.”
Magical way of supporting patients
Eamonn and volunteers from Middlesbrough Circle of Magicians even set up special workshops for patients, which flourished before being put on hold during Covid.
He is now hoping to get the go-ahead to re-start the lessons and, in the meantime, happily devotes his spare time to teaching patients how to perform their own shows.
“It’s such a nice way to support people. You need a bit of patter when you are performing tricks, and it’s a great way of improving your self-confidence,” he said.
“You can see people really grow in confidence and the way they interact with others when they start performing – and that really is magic.”
Lisa Cole, voluntary services manager at TEWV, today praised Eamonn and his fellow magician volunteers for their “wonderful work”.
“They have done some amazing work in our services, spending the time to patiently teach people tricks, encouraging them and building their confidence,” she said.
“They are not only talented but extremely compassionate and kind and the results have been wonderful to see! It’s a fabulously innovative way to engage and help patients.”
- If you would like to get involved with volunteering at TEWV contact email@example.com. To take a look at Eamonn performing a magic trick click here.