Doc honoured for clowning around

CLOWN Doctors founder Dr Peter Spitzer was smiling from ear to ear after being awarded a B’nai B’rith’s community honour on Sunday night.

“It’s an honour, a privilege and a surprise because I do this work because I have a passion, a feeling and a connection to what I do,” Dr Spitzer said.

The Bowral-based doctor, who wanders the halls of hospitals across Australia as Dr Fruit-Loop to entertain patients, established the Humour Foundation in 1996. He then launched Clown Doctors at the Sydney Children’s Hospital.

“The charity began as an idea about the art of medicine,” he said.

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The organisation has now grown to employ 58 performers, who have left the stage for the hospital. “I think no matter how serious the situation is people still need to laugh so we use music, plays, humour or whatever it takes to make a difference to people’s journeys,” he explained

Dr Spitzer, whose most recent initiative is a “smile study” researching the impact of using humour therapy in dementia care, won the B’nai B’rith award for making the greatest contribution to the Australian community.

The other winners on Sunday night were Rabbi Mendel Kastel from Jewish House, who won the award for the greatest contribution to the Australian Jewish community, and Ezra’s Barbara Cohen, for greatest contribution to Israel.

More than 100 people, including Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton, attended the inaugural B’nai B’rith award night, which was sponsored by The AJN.

B’nai B’rith NSW president Diana Laufer said it was a great evening.

“We are honouring people who are very dedicated to their tasks who don’t seek the limelights and don’t make the headlines,” Laufer said.

“We attracted people who are not necessarily mainstream but the people that are the builders of our community.

“It was great to honour people who are often not mentioned.”

JOSHUA LEVI

Dr Peter Spitzer