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Panto queen turns on the Forum’s Christmas tree in honour of brave toddler

PUBLISHED: 16:47 07 December 2017

Christmas lights switch on at The Forum in Norwich. Norwich Theatre Royal panto star Gillian Wright who turned on the lights. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Christmas lights switch on at The Forum in Norwich. Norwich Theatre Royal panto star Gillian Wright who turned on the lights. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

The wicked panto queen used a touch of Christmas magic to light up a tree named after a brave toddler born with a chromosomal disability.

Christmas lights switch on at The Forum in Norwich.  Picture: ANTONY KELLY Christmas lights switch on at The Forum in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Eastenders’ Gillian Wright, who plays Aunt Vipera at the Norwich Theatre Royal’s production of Sleeping Beauty, rallied the crowds to help bring festive cheer to the Forum this morning with the help of carol singers from Norwich High Prep School and Taverham Hall School.

The tree itself is named Elliott’s tree in honour of the inspiring three-year-old Elliott Frary who was born with an extremely rare chromosome defect called Inverted Duplication of 8P which affects just over 50 people worldwide.

His mother, Ria Frary, said: “As it’s so rare it is not talked about very much and it affects everything from his walking to his talking and hearing.

“Being a mum to Elliott is the best job in the world and he has lit up my life and really changed us as a family.

Elliott Frary, 3, and his family gathered at the Forum in Norwich to celebrate the switching on of the Christmas tree named after him. From left, Ros Czarnowska, CEO of NANSA, Elliott’s mum and dad, Ria and Darren Frary, and his grandparents, Matthew and Karen Steel. Photo: Harriet Orrell Elliott Frary, 3, and his family gathered at the Forum in Norwich to celebrate the switching on of the Christmas tree named after him. From left, Ros Czarnowska, CEO of NANSA, Elliott’s mum and dad, Ria and Darren Frary, and his grandparents, Matthew and Karen Steel. Photo: Harriet Orrell

“The Forum’s tree has been named after him for the third time this year so it’s become a bit of a Christmas tradition for us now.”

The 16ft tree was donated and decorated by Taverham Nursery Centre, which is owned by Elliott’s grandparents Matthew and Karen Steel, and is surrounded by collection buckets for visitors to donate to the two charities that Elliott and his family rely on for support.

The Hamlet Centre and Nansa are two Norwich-based organisations which help children and adults with complex health conditions and disabilities and they have been invaluable for the Frarys.

Ros Czarnowska, the chief executive at Nansa, said: “Ria and Elliott come along on a regular basis to access fun sessions which offer support when the brain is still developing which is extremely important.

Christmas lights switch on at The Forum in Norwich. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Christmas lights switch on at The Forum in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“We also provide an informal network of other families who are in similar sitations and help educate parents on how to to help their children at home.”

Mrs Frary added: “It’s amazing because with their support Elliott has come so far and any information and help we can offer to the charities is a bonus, which is why the Christmas tree is such an incredible thing.”

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