The Diary: Spirit of Christmas

Wales Methodist Panto Players prepare for their latest production '
Wales Methodist Panto Players prepare for their latest production '
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It was like a scene from the Pied Piper – but the kids were flocking to be in Mother Goose.

Children from the village of Wales and surrounding areas turned up in their dozens when they heard the village panto needed help.

After £5,000 worth of costumes collected over Wales panto’s long history were destroyed when a roof in the village hall collapsed in a storm things looked bleak.

But with the help of local builders, past members the parish council and flocks of local kids Wales Panto is back with its 69th production.

“We had 52 children coming in from the village to the first rehearsal, it was unbelievable,” said business manager Jayne Lemm.

“I think they just wanted to be part of it. They have read about the panto and heard it from other people, they just want to be involved.

“I think the publicity over the costumes has let people know what we’re doing again. The roof has been repaired now but we are wanting to get some heating in there now to help protect the costumes.

“We are buying material and having the costumes made by Hilary Berry in Wales and Lynn Cocker in Beighton.

“With the story of the roof collapse being in the Star everyone wants to be in the group.

“We lost all those costumes, some of which are donated from the crucible and the theatre in Leeds over the years and some that date back to the early days of the Wales panto when Roy Staniforth helped start it off.

“We will be able to get most of them a place in the panto. Some did not come to be in it they just turned up for a laugh. We still have more than enough to do the show.”

Back in June heavy rain caused the old school room of the Wales-Kiveton Methodist Church, in Kiveton Park, to collapse destroying gorilla outfits, mediaeval knight armour, dragon costumes and dame dresses worth thousands.

Some individual outfits alone cost £400.

Others had been owned by the company for more than 40 years.

“We had a lot of donations from past members enabling us to get the costumes we needed for the new panto.

“We got £3,600 with Wales Parish Council coming up with £3,000 and £600 from past members.

“When we had our first audition night we couldn’t believe the number of people that turned up, we thought a coach must have pulled up outside.

“People came in and said: ‘there’s a stream of kids walking up the village with their parents to come and audition’, it was amazing.

“We would like to thank past members and Wales Parish Council for their generosity and for supporting us when we needed it.

“The kids were all delighted when we got the news of the money to get new costumes.”

Wales panto’s Mother Goose will open at Sheffield Montgomery Hall on January 10, tickets £10 adults, £6 children £8 concessions from Jayne Lemm on 01909 809757 or 07730 266810.