A SOUTH Yorkshire hospital enjoyed a theatre with a difference – where surgeons were swapped for pantomime characters.
Ill youngsters visiting the children’s outpatients department at Barnsley Hospital yesterday were treated to their own special pantomime performance to help them forget about their conditions and put a smile on their faces.
The youngsters, accompanied by their parents and nursing staff, were given front-row seats for the private performance of Dick Whittington, staged by interactive theatre groups The Panto Company.
The cast of four was asked to put on the pantomime by the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which grants wishes to terminally ill children and provides entertainment in hospitals and hospices across the UK.
Nurse Terrie McNiffe said there were six children with complex health needs invited to the performance.
She said: “It was a lovely day for the children, a really positive experience for them.
“Their families knew about the pantomime, but it was a surprise for the children.
“We opened up the outpatients department specially for them.”
A spokesman for the foundation, said: “Starlight brightens the lives of seriously and terminally ill children by granting them once-in-a-lifetime wishes and providing entertainment for children in hospitals and hospices throughout the United Kingdom.
“All Starlight’s activities are aimed at distracting children from the pain, fear and isolation they can often feel as a result of their illnesses.
“Together with healthcare professionals, we have developed a programme of year-round entertainment and distraction which helps more than 500,000 children every year who are hospitalised for whatever reason.
“Sick children cheer, boo and hiss their way through Starlight Pantomimes, forget their pain and worry at Starlight Parties, play games and watch films on Starlight Fun Centres, take their minds off treatment with Starlight Distraction Boxes and enjoy much-needed breaks from hospital on Starlight Escapes.
“Often treatment of cancer or other serious illnesses in children involves unpleasant and painful procedures – it is very difficult to make a child happy at this time.”
n Visit www.starlight.org.uk to find out more about Starlight and to donate to the charity.