PANTOMIME stars brought a bit of Christmas cheer to children in Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Youngsters being treated in the paediatric ward enjoyed an afternoon with characters from the Groundlings Theatre’s Aladdin.
Actors toured the ward’s bays yesterday, ahead of the family pantomime’s month of upcoming shows at the Portsmouth venue, from Saturday.
Dressed in full costume, the stars met seven-year-old Kristopher Macintosh from Gosport.
Kristopher was admitted yesterday when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
He said: ‘I’ve had a good time seeing the people from the pantomime.
‘My favourite character is Aladdin [played by Lee Backhouse]. I really like his yellow hat.’
The youngster was with his dad Chris, 28, who said the visit brightened up what was a tough day.
Mr Macintosh said: ‘This visit was a big surprise. Kristopher’s been through the wars today with his diagnosis.
‘For these guys to come in has really lifted spirits.’
In another bay, the characters met seven-year-old Jude Allen, who has spent much of his life at QA Hospital.
Admitted just months after he was born, the young boy is waiting for five organ transplants – a liver, pancreas, small and large intestines and a new stomach.
Jude said: ‘I have seen the characters when they have visited the hospital before.
‘I get excited about them coming along every year.
‘It was good to see them again. My favourites are Aladdin, Wishee Washee, Widow Twankey and Princess Jasmine.’
Actor Tony Howes – known for his appearances in Casualty, Emmerdale and Doctors – will play Wishee Washee when Aladdin begins at the Groundlings Theatre on Sunday.
Speaking after meeting dozens of youngsters at QA, he said: ‘I do this every year in different hospitals.
‘It’s really rewarding. It makes you realise how lucky we are to breathe, walk, talk and have a giggle.’
Tracy Morgan – the paediatric ward’s play specialist – said: ‘Anything like this is a welcome distraction for our patients.
‘Christmas is a time when children don’t want to be in hospital, so this is a little bit of fun for them.’
Aladdin will appear at the Groundlings Theatre until Sunday, January 7.
Visit groundlings.co.uk to book tickets.