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Force is strong as Star Wars fans help sick kids in Scotland

Force is strong as Star Wars fans help sick kids in Scotland

It's a tough life as a 7ft 9 Wookiee, even if it's only in costume.

It took lifelong Star Wars fan Keith Armour around 1600 hours to stitch his screen-accurate Wookiee ensemble out of mesh, knee pads, stilts and hair extensions.

Since completion, the outfit has made memorable appearances at events around the UK from Glasgow's West End Festival to Star Wars movie screenings - and yes, it gets pretty warm in there.

via STV via STV

Pictured: Keith Armour dressed as a Wookiee, Edinburgh Comic Con

Hailing from Livingston, Keith is one of around 150 die-hard fans who make up costume and prop collective Rebel Legion UK, the preferred Rebel costume group to represent Lucasfilm Limited, the firm behind the blockbusters, at events around the country.

A worldwide organisation, Rebel Legion is a platform for sci-fi fans to share their skills and passion for pageantry and costume-making.

But when the UK branch isn't vacuum-forming armour for the Alliance or parading around Collectormania, they're bringing joy to the lives of terminally ill children.

via STV via STV

Keith - Rebel Legion events coordinator for Scotland - said: "I had never built a costume in my life until I started with Rebel Legion.

"I just learned from the other members, and because I like helping people, it was easy for me to then guide people through the process from start to finish.

"At the moment I'm raising a family and just battling through life, and I just love making kids smile when they see me in costume.

"We appeared at a Smile for Life charity event in Glasgow - the kids came in thinking they were going to watch the Star Wars movie, but their faces were unbelievable when we walked in and they ran up to hug us."

via STV via STV

As well as supporting the group's official charity partner Rainbow Trust, Keith has organised special events for children across Scotland.

Ahead of Christmas in 2013, the group paid a visit to Rachel House Hospice in Kinross, with armfuls of toys donated by members around the country.

Keith said: "It was just overwhelming the number of toys people donated, and the children and families were so grateful.

"We kept our costumes on during the visit but after spending time with kids who were severely disabled, there were a few red eyes among the team after the helmets came off.

"We brought our families along to present toys to the children and took photos - the hospice staff were just taken aback."

Rebel LegionUK

After a successful visit to Legoland in Windsor, Rebel Legion are booked to appear at Glasgow's Gibson Street Gala to mark the launch of the West End Festival.

Last year's appearance saw members patrolling the Gala wielding lightsabers and captivating imaginations of young Star Wars fans - and this year's appearance should be even more thrilling with the upcoming release of The Force Awakens.

Keith added: "Some kids are just star struck because in their eyes you are the character - and that's why we try to make them as accurate as possible.

"They'll say they have your action figure, or ask you about your planet - their imaginations run wild, and because we stay in character we just go along with it."

via STV via STV

Formed in 2002, Rebel Legion UK is in high demand for events around the country and hopes to recruit more members.

After tentatively joining the ranks in 2010, Keith is overjoyed having found a new family - one who supported him after his mother passed away in 2011.

Keith said: "My mum was diagnosed with cancer and I started thinking about ways I could raise money for charity.

"I organised an event to raise money for the intensive care unit at St John's Hospital in Livingston and all my Star Wars friends from England came up to support me in full costume.

"About 35 people backed me on the night like one big family and we raised about £3000."

via STV via STV

Interested in getting involved? Just visit the Rebel Legion UK website.

Main image credit: Roman Bela

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