Joe Hoare Spreads the Power of Joy — and Smiles — in the UK

27 November 2019 | Smile Train

Laughter Yoga Instructor Joe Hoare has dedicated his life to the idea that “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” Never one to miss an opportunity to put his philosophy into action, Joe organised the Joy Conference, a one-day seminar on the transformative power of joy, in Bristol, with all proceeds going to Smile Train.

The idea for the conference was born of Joe’s deep affection for Smile Train’s work. “I’ve always had a Smile Train picture on my wall because in my line of work, smiling is very much a core thing,” he said. “I liked the idea of doing something for Smile Train because it gives people back their smiles. It’s a natural overlap.”

Joe and friends wearing comically large sunglasses at the Joy Conference

Joe designed the Joy Conference to bring together experts from diverse fields (including medicine, psychology, cancer care, and yoga) to demonstrate how joy is a necessary thread through all these vital disciplines. “Sometimes we underestimate the importance of joy. Personal wellbeing and joy are things we really need to pay attention to — the heart of our lives,” he said.

Two Joy Conference attendees dancing with each other

Though the conference speakers were all eager to help raise money for Smile Train, Joe nonetheless ran into some unexpected difficulties organising the event, which ended up taking more than three months of constant effort to put together. But he persisted and, with some help from Smile Train UK, news of the conference eventually spread through word-of-mouth and social media. The Bristol City Council and the National Health Service also lent crucial support.

Three women kneeling behind large letters JOY, decorated by conferencegoers with things that spark joy for them

In the end, the success of the event exceeded even Joe’s expectations. “People came away with an appreciation of how important joy is,” he said. Besides countless smiles from attendees, the conference also raised more than enough to fund life-saving cleft treatment for four children. Especially helpful was a £1,000 gift from an anonymous donor after the conference closed.

The Joy Conference audience laughing and clapping

“I am delighted, absolutely delighted, that there will now be more people who can communicate happily and naturally and easily through the power of a genuine smile because of this conference,” Joe beamed. “We need more of this kind of communication in the world.”

Joe on stage at the Joy Conference

To join Joe in connecting people around the world through the power of a smile, please make a gift to Smile Train today.

Visit to learn more about laughter yoga and the Joy Conference.