PHOTOS & VIDEO: Chewbacca claps for NHS in Exmouth to make children smile

Chewbacca the Wookie has been clapping for the NHS and putting a smile on the faces of children in Exmouth coping with the coronavirus crisis.

Star Wars fan David Wellbeloved, of Denmark Road, creates film-quality costumes as a hobby and appeared as Chewbacca to cheer up his neighbours who were clapping for the NHS.

Dad-of-two David, aged 39, urged people to also clap for the ‘hero’ younger generation during the weekly round of applause on Thursdays.

He believes children will be dealing with the fallout of the pandemic for years to come.

He said: “I think children at the moment are very scared. They can’t see their friends and familiar teachers. I think our children’s bravery should be rewarded.

“We should clap for the NHS, keyworkers and care workers, and also for our children as well.

“They are going to be the ones that carry this forward, whatever the repercussions of this virus. Our children are our heroes as well.”

David Wellbeloved – aka Chewbacca – has this message of support for the NHS and key workers

Married David, who is a member of Southern Troopers, a sci-fi costume group which raises funds for charity by attending events as film characters, began making Star Wars gear around five years ago when he put together a lifelike Darth Vader outfit.

Extensive research of one of his favourite characters, Chewbacca, led him to start making the Wookie costume.

After years of taking over the family kitchen for his creations, David now has a purpose-built workshop in his garden, complete with 3-D printer, to build costumes, full-scale Yoda puppets, and array of World Book Day outfits for his children.


David as Chewbacca with his family, wife, Jo, and sons, Jack and Fred.


David with his family.

He said his wife, Jo, aged 44, had been sympathetic about David creating costumes at home prior to the purpose-built workshop.

“She’s pleased we have built the workshop in the garden,” said David. “She’s very understanding. She’s been finding hairs all around the place from Chewbacca.”

David said his Wookie handiwork, which is seven-feet high, includes 18-inch stilts made from army boots, and takes around an hour to put on, was borne out of YouTube and online tutorials.

“It took a lot of practice, learning how to walk,” said David, who is 6ft 2″. “It was like going back to being a toddler.”

He also sought advice from Maria Cork, who was supervisor of the hair department in creature effects for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with the responsibility of looking after Chewbacca, and from puppeteer and Star Wars actor, Mike Quinn.

The support worker for adults with learning disabilities, creates and wears his costumes with the sole aim of making people smile.

David, dad to Jack aged 10, and eight-year-old Fred, said his fascination with Star Wars began more than 30 years ago when he was six-year-old and watching the films with his 12-year-old cousin, who was going through chemotherapy.

He said: “Seeing him sat on the sofa, smiling at this fantasy, escapist, film and seeing how it could put a smile on his face – that’s what got me hooked.”


David’s Darth Vader costume.
Photo: Adam Ball photography.


David’s Chewbacca costume can take an hour to put on and stands seven feet high.


David’s creations were made in the kitchen until he built a workshop in the garden.


David looks to his favourite Star War films for inspiration.


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