Marcus was born with an unusual facial cleft and cleft palate, and over the years he has had more than 20 operations, the first when he was just four months old.
Starting school seemed to go well, but when Marcus was about eight years old, his mum Sam became very worried about him. “He went from being this bright, bubbly little boy to being very quiet and I knew something was really wrong,” she says.
Marcus admitted he was being bullied at school because of how he looked. He remembers it being a really difficult time: “they would call me names like ‘scar face, two-face and Joker’. I was really upset and although I would try and ignore them, it was really hard.”
Sam says she didn’t know what to do for the best. “It was very hard because the school were saying they were sorting it and then Marcus would come home and tell me that a little boy had turned round to him and said, ‘if I looked like you I’d have done away with myself’. This little boy was eight years old; I was so shocked.”
Sam got in touch with Changing Faces and we started to work with the family and the school. Gradually this started to make a difference and Marcus also made a short film to tell his class more about himself. Marcus says, “I just didn’t want to be treated differently any more so I made the DVD so that they could see that I’m just like them and explain why I look the way I do.” By the time Marcus was 10, things at school were much better and Sam felt Marcus had become much more resilient.
Marcus is now at secondary school and has a really good group of friends. Outside of school he is a regional and national champion trampolinist. He’s also been a champion for Changing Faces over the last few years.
He says, “I really don’t know if I would be the person I am today without Changing Faces. Meeting other people with visible differences that have been through what I have has been amazing. They understand. I’m not on my own. It’s like a weight had been lifted.”