Hospice kids treated to special version of panto

Members of the panto cast with staff, fundraisers and volunteers from the hospice.
Members of the panto cast with staff, fundraisers and volunteers from the hospice.

A specially adapted version of Mansfield Palace Theatre’s pantomime has been presented to children with life-shortening or life-threatening conditions.

Youngsters and their families from the Bluebell Wood hospice in Sheffield went along to see a more relaxed performance of ‘Peter Pan, starring Marc Baylis, of ‘Coronation Street’ fame, as Captain Hook.

The show was adapted for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which affects social interaction and communication, and those with learning disabilities. Noises were softened, lights were dimmed and the youngsters were under no pressure to conform to the usual theatre rules of staying silent and still. Instead they could come and go, perhaps even to pop into a chill-out room with bean-bags and craft activities.

The audience included five-year-old Callum Edwards, whose mum Nadia said: “Thanks to the theatre staff for making us feel so welcome. It was lovely to see so many children and young adults with additional needs enjoying the show in a safe space.”

The visit continued a partnership that has seen the theatre raise £28,175 for the hospice from bucket collections at panto performances during the past five years. More will be collected from this year’s show, which runs until New Year’s Eve.