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Panto cast bring joy to children

Picture caption (left to right): Alexandra Da Silva, Princess Aurora, Michael Watson-Gray, as Billy, Ruby Mae, patient, Sue Appleby, as Fairy Peaceful and Zak Derler, Prince Orlando.

Panto actors dressed in bright and colourful costumes brought some festive cheer to children at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH).

Lead actors from the production Sleeping Beauty, which is currently being shown at The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury took some time out of their busy schedule to visit children on the ward.

Sue Appleby, as Fairy Peaceful, Alexandra Da Silva, Princess Aurora, Zak Derler, Prince Orlando and Michael Watson-Gray, as Billy, spent time with children on the ward on Thursday 7 December before the matinee production at The Roses was streamed live into the ward. It was also streamed into a care for the elderly ward.

Beverly Jones, Ward Manager for Paediatric Planned Care at GRH, said: “It was such a lovely thing to do and the cast were so good with the children. You can imagine how their little faces just lit up as they came through the ward.

“Something like this does lift the morale of the children as well as the parents and staff. The excitement didn’t end with the visit though because the cast took the children’s names and read them out the next day during the live stream into the ward. That was touching and a lovely gesture.” 

Sue Appleby, who plays the part of Fairy Appleby in the production, added: “Panto really does capture the imagination of children like nothing else. There’s something magical about it and we were just delighted to be able to spend some time with the children – it was the least that we could do.”

Keith Norton, Chairman of The Roses and a Non-Executive Director at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS FT, added: “We were delighted to be in position to live stream this production into the children’s ward. I would like to extend a very warm thank you to the cast for giving up their time to visit the children, the staff at the hospitals and theatre, POBIT Live for supporting the initiative and The Arts Council England for their continued support of The Roses.”   

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, added: “We are really pleased to support The Roses in their continued development of live streaming. Digital technology is transforming the way we make, distribute, receive and exchange art and the Arts Council is committed to supporting digital change and innovation across the arts and culture sector. Particularly important is how these methods reach new and different audiences and bring art and culture to places and people that might not otherwise get to experience the benefits; so we’re thrilled that The Roses are taking their work into hospitals at this important time of year.”

The panto stream from the theatre, using multiple camera angles, was enabled by innovative technology called POBIT Live, developed by an Anglo-Danish company, Audux.  

Managing Director, Carl Walker, said: “Having worked with the Roses Theatre this year on a number of live streams using our equipment, we are thrilled that our technology is helping to extend performance art to those that cannot to get to the theatre…and what better way than to stream a live panto to a children’s ward so they get to experience this magical show even when in hospital'