Three-year-old Isabella with leukaemia among youngsters who got a visit from Groundlings Theatre panto characters at Queen Alexandra Hospital

ILL youngsters who are facing spending Christmas Day in hospital got a special treat when a group of pantomime characters came to visit.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 5:58 pm

Jack and Jill, along with other characters from the Groundlings Theatre pantomime of Jack and the Beanstalk, went up the hill to Queen Alexandra Hospital to spread Christmas cheer throughout the children’s Starfish Ward.

Three-year-old Isabelle Ayrton from Fareham has leukaemia and is no stranger to the hospital in Cosham having visited a number of times in the last year and spent last Christmas in the ward.

The youngster was delighted to meet the panto characters and joyed twirling with the vegetable fairy and Jill in the corridor.

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Caidie, three, with her mother Tracey Rich and the Panto cast. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Mum Julie said: ‘It is really brilliant that they come in and cheer everyone up.

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‘We only came in last night and we hope to be home before Christmas but it breaks up the day for her as it can be really long.’

For two-year-old Ernie Whitton from Portsmouth, he has so far been in the hospital for two weeks and his mum Georga told The News that doctors are trying to get them home on Christmas Eve.

Earnie Whitton, two, with panto cast, Richard Stride, Travis Booth-Millard, Amelia Greco and Fleur de Wit. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The 27-year-old said: ‘We have been here a while now and so he has been here for all the special visits in the last couple of weeks. There were other pantomime characters and the Pompey team came in as well.

‘It is really lovely and great for the children as it gives them a smile.’

Groundlings Theatre artistic director Richard Stride, and this year’s pantomime Dame, said: ‘We want to spread some Christmas joy for everyone who has to spend their time in hospital.

Panto villain, Russell Meyers with Rizwan Khan, seven Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘They probably won’t get the chance to come down to the theatre so we are bringing the theatre to them.’

The characters have also visited Rowans Hospice last month and gave them a sneak preview of this year’s show.

Amelia Greco, starring as Jill, added: ‘You can imagine that if you are staying in hospital that you aren’t feeling very Christmassy so we want to inject a bit of festive fun into everyone here and get them feeling in a good mood and put a smile on their face.’

Jack and the Beanstalk at Groundlings Theatre runs until January 5 and to purchase tickets visit groundlings.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173591625/events/428212538

Alfie, three, chatting to the panto cast. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Isabelle Ayrton, three, with the panto cast, Russell Meyers, Travis Booth-Millard, Fleur de Wit, Richard Stride and Amelia Greco. Picture: Habibur Rahman
The Groundlings Theatre Jack and the Beanstalk cast at QA Hospital. Picture: Habibur Rahman
19/12/19 Groundlings Theatre: Jack and the Beanstalk cast are visiting QA hospital surprising the children in the paediatric wards. Pictured: The Panto cast greeting Ernie Whitton 2 Picture: Habibur Rahman
19/12/19 Groundlings Theatre: Jack and the Beanstalk cast are visiting QA hospital surprising the children in the paediatric wards. Pictured: Isabelle Ayrton 3 with the Panto cast, Russell Meyers, Travis Booth-Millard, Fleur de Wit, Richard Stride and Amelia Greco. Picture: Habibur Rahman