Lou Pollard, the 333rd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is part performer, part medical aide and part (to use her words) “quack”.

Lou works as a clown doctor, which involves distracting and entertaining sick patients (generally children) with jokes, music and art.

To do her job well, Lou (who goes by the name Dr Quack) needs to be attuned to each patient’s unique personality, emotional needs and medical condition; she needs to build relationships with their families and the medical staff; and she needs to do a lot of listening.

One thing that stood out to me was the incredible sense of professionalism that Lou and her fellow clown doctors display. They do training, attend briefings and participate in conferences, because they take their craft very seriously. Their overriding goal is to do everything they can to help the patients and medical staff.

Like most clown doctors, Lou comes from a performance background: she’s also an actor, stand-up comedian and corporate entertainer.

Lou derives great fulfilment from being able to support children and their families at the worst moment of their lives. As she described her work, you could clearly see both the pride and emotion in her face.

Thank you, Lou, for your service.