Panto cast bring a bit of magic to kids staying in hospital

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IF youngsters in hospital were granted three wishes by a genie, one of them would surely be to be home by Christmas.

For many of the young people in Queen Alexandra Hospital’s paediatrics ward, that wish will come true.

But some, those with chronic conditions, may not get to wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning to a stocking full of presents.

On hand to cheer all those patients up yesterday was the cast of Aladdin – the first pantomime to be held at the historic Groundlings Theatre in Portsea.

One of those patients was Jasmine Mitchell, nine, who came face-to-face with her panto namesake, Princess Jasmine, yesterday.

She has already been in hospital for a fortnight, as she suffers from cystic fibrosis – a life-threatening lung condition that requires treatment with intravenous antibiotics.

Her dad Steven, from Milton, said having visits from the panto cast was very important for the children on the wards.

He said: ‘It is so boring for children stuck in this environment.

‘Having other things happen, whether it’s visitors, exciting things happening, anything just to liven things up, is so important.

‘We’ve just heard that Jasmine will have to attend hospital every three months for a course of antibiotics for the foreseeable future, so she will be here a lot.

‘And like any nine-year-old girl, she hates it – trapped in a room with very little to do.

‘By having people come in and change the environment, it’s really good.’

On hand to entertain the children – and some of their parents – were Jim Wringe, who plays Kevin, the Genie of the Lamp; Graham Hill, in the title role of Aladdin; and Emelye Dwyer, who plays Princess Jasmine.

All agreed it was a privilege to be invited along to visit the youngsters.

For Emelye, it was particularly poignant.

She said: ‘I wanted to go into paediatrics when I was younger, and if I hadn’t gone into acting that’s what I would have done.

‘Just to bring a little bit of magic to these kids, especially the ones who can’t come out, it means so much and it’s an absolute honour to have been invited to do it.’




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