Sounds of laughter and song filled a ward at Norfolk’s main hospital yesterday when a touring theatre group performed their latest production.

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The festive and New Year period is traditionally a time for children to shout “it’s behind you” and “oh yes it is” in theatres and community halls across the country.

However, poorly children at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital were too ill to go home or go on a day trip to the theatre this Christmas.

A touring theatre company brought some panto cheer to patients at the Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital on the Buxton Ward yesterday with an interactive performance of Dick Whittington.

As part of its Christmas of Happiness campaign, the Starlight Children’s Foundation has been bringing fun and entertainment to poorly children across the country with its touring hospital and hospice pantomime.

Four actors from The Panto Company danced and sang to young patients at the hospital to help them to forget their illnesses and have a bit of fun.

Judy Holland, play specialist for the Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital, said: “Starlight’s Christmas panto has become a highlight of the festive calendar for us and we have been really looking forward to the arrival of Dick Whittington and his cat on the ward.”

“Play and distraction can significantly help to reduce the amount of pain and anxiety children feel as they undergo treatment and Starlight’s Christmas Panto is a wonderful dose of festive fun for our young patients and their families.”

Starlight Children’s Foundation helps to brightens the lives of over half a million children in the UK every year. In addition to its hospital entertainment programme, the foundation also grants wishes to seriously ill and terminally ill children and helps more than 500,000 children every year.

Ted James, who plays Dick Whittington in the pantomime, said: “Starlight gives poorly children a positive focus when they need it most and the charity’s Christmas panto is a great way to entertain and distract children who are in hospital over the festive period. Dick Whittington is our best show yet and we hope that it helps to restore some of the magic of Christmas for the poorly children in the Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital.”

The children’s hospital at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has 33 inpatient beds, a day procedure unit and accident and emergency department.

To refer a child for a wish or to make a donation, please go online at www.starlight.org.uk

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