Young patients at Northampton General Hospital's Disney Ward were given a special treat when stars of ‘Beauty And The Beast’ - the Deco Theatre’s Christmas Panto - made a surprise visit to the children’s ward.
Tony Howes, who will be playing Nurse Jackie when the Panto gets underway on December 11, Karl James Wilson, who plays both the Beast and the Prince, and Lydia Lucy, who plays Belle and Beauty, spent time chatting to the youngsters, and gave out a few special treats too.
Many of the children revealed they are X-Factor fans, and wanted to talk to Lydia about her experiences on the ITV show while others remembered Karl from when he was a ‘Hollyoaks’ regular. No one would have recognised Tony, who was dressed, appropriately for the occasion, as his Panto character, Nurse Jackie!
“We had a lovely couple of hours, and the kiddies were delightful,” said Tony. “Visits like that mean a great deal to me, because if I can bring a little happiness into the lives of young children who are poorly, then it makes me feel very fulfilled.
“Hopefully we will be seeing lots of the children we met with their families at the Deco Theatre in December when hopefully they will all be fully recovered, and fit and well.”
Said Lydia: “It’s now two years since I was on X-Factor, and still people remember me from that experience. It was a great opportunity for me, and even though I missed out on live shows, my career has gone from strength to strength ever since.
“I really enjoyed visiting the childrens’ ward, and as Tony said, if our visit helped brighten their day – and however lovely the staff are, being in hospital is never easy for anyone, let alone children – then all the better.”
Jill Roach, of Panto producers Stage Right Productions, said a hospital visit to Northampton General was always a must for the cast.
“The enthusiasm is always terrific, because Panto is all about children having fun,” she said. “Putting a smile on young faces at the childrens’ ward is very rewarding for all of us involved with the Deco Panto.”
‘Beauty And The Beast’, which also stars former Coronation Street actor Nicholas Cochrane, and Crossroads legend Angela Webb, runs at the Deco Theatre from December 11 to 29. Tickets can be bought in person at the Deco Theatre, or online, by visiting www.thedeco.co.uk