Alex CowleyHome

A little history

Every now and then, a project comes along that sweeps you off your feet and leaves you wishing that it would never end… that you could go on working on it forever. This was one of those projects.

Throughout my life I’ve had many different links to Alder Hey Hospital, not least through the kids at my local RDA group, many of whom visit the hospital on a regular basis. The old hospital was a fantastic, warm, caring place where busy staff took time out of their busy days to set the children (and their parents) at ease, and their passion and dedication really shone through.


In 2013, work began on a massive £237 million pound scheme to create Alder Hey in the Park, a brand new Alder Hey hospital and the only park-based children’s hospital in Europe. The new hospital opened its doors in October 2015.

The Hardleeys

The Hardleeys are cuddly and caring creatures who are desperate to make friends with the children at Alder Hey Hospital. They are integrated throughout the building and will be helping to distract and reassure children during their visits.

The Hardleeys were created by a fantastic London-based studio in collaboration with the hospital’s trust. When I came on board the project, the characters were designed and ready to go, they just needed their own world to inhabit.


The team I worked with on this project were absolutely phenomenal from day one, really allowing me to stretch my creative muscles and come up with some unique concepts. We went through hundreds of iterations and designs but eventually landed on a unique, textured visual style which really tied the characters to their surroundings.


Goodbye comfort zone

The scope of the project was massive – from mobile apps and games right the way through to branding and vinyl wall art, I found myself regularly outside my comfort zone and absolutely loving it. I must have learned hundreds of new skills and techniques, and all credit to the guys I worked with for pushing me to deliver some of my best work to date.


If you can’t tell already, I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved here. This project has been a massive collaboration made possible by all the immensely talented people who have created something that will affect thousands of families and children for years to come.


Find out more

For more information on Alder Hey in the Park, or to find out what you can do to support them, check out their official website or hop over to their Facebook page.