STAR WARS and Life’s Too Short actor Warwick Davis is spearheading a new organisation called Little People UK, which aims to support people living with dwarfism by sharing knowledge and experiences.
The Yaxley-based movie legend said yesterday (14 February) that the new group had been a personal goal of his for the last 20 years.
Parents of children newly diagnosed with dwarfism have often contacted Warwick through his personal website and increasingly so, he said, since the BBC2 series by Ricky Gervais, Life’s Too Short, was aired.
He said: “This is something I’m really passionate about, especially when you think ‘how can these people be in such a lonely and confused state in this day and age?’
“I met a couple of weeks ago some parents whose three-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SED).
“They thought let’s get in touch with Warwick and I met with them to chat about the condition, including the possible complications associated with this type of dwarfism.”
Warwick, who has appeared in a string of successful Hollywood films over the past three decades including Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, Willow and the Harry Potter films, said medical help is still quite difficult to find for people with dwarfism today.
He added: “My parents had me in the 1970s and they were very tall, and I don’t know how they ever coped with bringing me up with the poor medical advice that was around at the time.
“It was said that I wouldn’t live to be a teenager.”
Warwick and his wife Sam have founded Little People UK with a group of people also affected by dwarfism, including Fiona Reilly, Chris Brenchley and Joanne Armstrong, who live in Corby.
The founders met at the Pen Green Children’s Centre, which is in Corby, on Saturday and Sunday for the group’s official launch.
Warwick said: “We are still in the very early stages of the organisation.
“It has been set up by people drawn from different backgrounds, so we have lots of perspectives all with one goal – to help provide friendly, open support to parents and families.
“One aim is to be a social group that is very welcoming, friendly and offers resources for medical information, including a database for doctors with specialist expertise.
“We were overwhelmed, we had 130 people attend over the weekend - it was amazing.”
Trained advisors manning a special helpline is just one service that Warwick hopes Little People UK might offer in the future.
A website is also being planned, along with a potential scholarship fund to help children born with dwarfism access training and degree courses.
Warwick said: “An aim is to instill confidence and self-belief in people with dwarfism.
“It’s about us learning together and making the most of the world and ourselves.”
A members-only Facebook group, called Little People UK, has already attracted more than 200 subscribers. To access the social network visit www.facebook.com/groups/312922142071856 and click ‘ask to join group’.