8 February 2016

Page 8

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The Empire ‘gives back’ THE bad guys were the good guys on Saturday when Stormtroopers from the Star Wars movies visited children at Frankston Hospital. The representatives of The Empire turned from the Dark Side of The Force to show their good side by handing out free Star Wars books to patients on the children’s ward. Imperial Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion, a worldwide group of Star Wars fans who make and wear costumes from the movies, regularly attend events to raise money for charity or entertain children in hospitals. Australian Stormtrooper Mark Marcus, of Cranbourne South, says he decided to enlist in the 501st Legion when he saw the troops in costume at a fans convention about five years ago and the local Knight Force Squad has about 55 active members at present who source and build costumes. He has a Stormtrooper and Royal Guard costume. The Royal Guards, dressed in red, flanked The Emperor in Episode III: Return of the Jedi. It costs about $1500 to $5000 to make a costume depending on the character depicted. The 501st Legion costumes must be “screen accurate” and usually take two to three months to build. “I saw a documentary called Heart of The Empire about the 501st Legion and in that they interviewed people who’d made suits and I thought I’d like to do something for charity and give something back,” Mr Marcus said. “If I get to be a Stormtrooper and do it then that’s ticking all the boxes.” He says there are groups who dress

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hospital can be a scary experience for children, they are in a strange place and they don’t feel well,” Dr McMahon said. “We try our absolute best to make their experience as happy as it can be using play therapy and ensuring the ward doesn’t look too clinical, but having a special treat like this can help dramatically. “It’s not just the kids who are excited about the visit – we have a few staff who are diehard Star Wars fans and I think they were actually even more excited about meeting the Stormtroopers than the kids.” See 501st.com for further information about the Star Wars fans ongoing charity work. Neil Walker

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as Jedi to represent the light side of The Force at charity events but Mr Marcus reckons the lure of the Dark Side is powerful thanks to the comparative “coolness of the costumes” in The Empire. He says the Legion is always keen to hear from Star Wars fans who want to join up. “When you’ve got kids who are doing it tough and they’re so excited to see you, that’s great.” Peninsula Health clinical director of paediatrics Dr Kathy McMahon said “having real life Stormtroopers on the ward is be a lovely distraction for the kids” at Frankston Hospital. “There are countless clinical studies that prove children will recover faster when they are happy. Being in

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