BBC News

The window cleaners who turned superheroes for a day

By Patrick Evans
BBC News Social & UGC team

image copyrightKCH/Matthew Manor

It's a good thing superheroes aren't afraid of heights.

The usual team of window cleaners at a Canadian hospital were replaced by a gang of superheroes, delighting the young patients inside.

Spiderman, Batman, Iron Man, Superman, Thor and GI Joe assembled earlier this week at the Kingston General Hospital in Ontario for three hours of cheering window cleaning. The hospital's photographer was on hand to capture the reaction on the wards and the pictures have been shared widely on social media.

image copyrightKGH/Matthew Manor
image captionPatient Luke Carter and his parents

'It was awesome!'

Luke Carter, aged seven, was in hospital serious injuries from a quad bike crash when the superheroes arrived. He was moved from critical care to the other side of the hospital so he could see them.

"He was really excited by the distraction" says his mother Bailly, 32. "Someone gave him a gift of a Batman toy and he was holding it up to Batman."

"The superheroes were there for a good 20 minutes. They were drawing smiley faces in the soap and giving the kids thumbs up through the glass."

Luke said the day had been "awesome".

image copyrightKGH/ Matthew Manor
image captionChris Stoness (Batman) high fives a child through the glass

'It was a unique, personal experience'

Chris Stoness, 33 headed up the team of superhero window cleaners.

"This was the first time in 10 years of window cleaning I've done something like this."

"Everybody picked a Superhero who was the best fit for their personality. Though as the boss I got Batman as it was the warmest costume - it was 36C outside - and no one wanted to be Batman"

Chris described the effect the stunt had both on the children and himself, "some of those kids were very sick and frail but hey were laughing and waving. It was a unique personal experience to help them escape."

"I wasn't prepared for how much of an impact it would have on the kids - to see a sick child in a full body cast forget that they are in a full body cast for a second is pretty great."

image copyrightKCH/Matthew Manor

Marcia McFarlane, 42, the supervisor on the children's ward had the idea of doing it at the hospital. She said: "The giggles and laughs you heard from the hall made the whole day worth it. "

"We were ecstatic with the impact it had not just here but all over the world. Children admitted to hospital feel vulnerable and powerless. This made them feel powerful."

image copyrightKGH/Matthew Manor

Katie Stewart, 62, a Child Life specialist on the ward has worked there for 15 years, said there was an added benefit to the idea.

"It was a really hot day and the window cleaners must have been sweltering but they really took their time with the kids. They took much longer than normal so the windows are now super clean."

image copyrightKGH/Matthew Manor