In 1997 a group of Edinburgh-based artists, including former Artistic Director Magdalena Schamberger, decided to bring The Big Apple Circus concept of Hospital Clowning to Scotland. Using specialist clowning skills and taking on the characters of hospital doctors, the group put on red noses and adopted funny names to make the children smile and laugh. From this small but heartfelt start, the charity Hearts & Minds was born.

Our Clowndoctors Programme

In 1999, we launched our Clowndoctors Programme and began working in collaboration with Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow, Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital and Children's Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS). We now visit hospitals, hospices and respite centres across Scotland, visiting babies, children and young people with short, long-term and sometimes life-limiting conditions. We also created a programme to work with children who attend schools for learners with complex additional support needs in collaboration with The Royal Blind School and Beatlie School.

"It's amazing that you can get him to focus like that for so long."

Mother of a 2 year old boy

Our Elderflowers Programme

The Elderflowers Programme was designed in collaboration with Borders General Hospital and Stirling University Dementia Services Development Centre in 2001, to bring the benefits of therapeutic clowning to older people living with dementia and dementia-related conditions; it was unique to the UK at the time. Then and now, we aim to create magical moments for ladies and gentlemen in hospitals, hospices and residential care homes.

"It's always great when the Elderflowers come - I can see that you really make a difference."

Occupational Therapist