Illustrating Toddle Waddle

27th March 2018

Rebecca Canavan, our wonderful Toddle Waddle illustrator, explains how she set about capturing the personalities of the children who feature in our materials

Toddle Waddle - Rebecca Canavan

“I was honoured to be asked to illustrate the new Toddle Waddle fundraising pack for Meningitis Now – it's a charity that does such fantastic work and one that means a lot to me. They chose five very special children to feature, all of whom are living with the aftermath of meningitis in very different ways."

“It was decided early on that I would talk to each family, to get an insight into each child's personality, their individual experiences of meningitis and to find out all about each child’s’ favourite things, and what makes them happy."

Unique spirit and personality

“The aim was to produce illustrations that would hopefully capture the unique spirit and personality of each one. On talking to the families I was struck by how brave they all are – managing to find positives out of extremely difficult circumstances following such a terrible illness."

“During these conversations I was able to find out some wonderful and very touching stories about each child. For example, Louie's mum's anecdote about how when visiting the beach they like to take his prosthetic legs off and stick them upside down in the sand, so to passers-by it looks like he's been buried head down! This was so funny and immediately inspired one of my illustrations of Louie."

“To produce each illustration, I took the information from each of the families, looked at lots of photos of each child, and then made a series of rough drawings. These were then finalised and finished in pen and ink, before being completed with acrylic paint and Photoshop. Work began on the project in late November and it was all complete by the end of January."

Very moving

“Spending so much time finding out about and illustrating the children was very moving. It was wonderful to hear about each one, and see them all doing the things they love in the photos I was sent."

Louie with his cheeky grin and fantastic sense of humour, Amelia being incredibly adventurous, creative and brave, Elise full of joy and energy with the most sparkling smile, Seth’s sense of fun, kindness and protectiveness towards his brother Reece, and Reece’s own lovely infectious smile and close bond with his twin."

“They have all been affected by the disease in different ways, yet have decided to share their stories to help others. What an amazing way to bring something positive out of the nightmare that is meningitis."

“I hope that these illustrations will help raise vital funds and awareness, as Meningitis Now continues its fight against the disease, and its long-term support for those affected, including children like Amelia, Louie, Elise, Seth and Reece.”

See more and sign up for a Toddle Waddle here.