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VIDEO: Panto stars spread a little magic on children’s wards

Young patients, their families and staff alike were left star-struck after the visit by Yorkshire comedian and king of panto Billy Pearce, who plays Buttons, and singer and TV presenter Coleen Nolan, who is the Fairy Godmother in the Bradford show.

Sarah Goggin as Cinderella, Sam Barrett as Prince Charming, Coleen’s son Shane Nolan as the prince’s pal Dandini, and Jack Noble as one of the Ugly Sisters also helped to brighten up the wards.

Pleased to see the panto stars were 16-month old Zachary Aldridge-Kendall and Aminah Shahanawaz, five.

Zachary’s mum Verity Aldridge, 25, of Shipley, said her son had been in hospital since Saturday with an infection and was on the mend, so the visit from the stars of Cinderella was a nice surprise.

Aminah’s mum Shabana Naz, of Heaton, said her daughter, who had been admitted to hospital the day before with a temperature and rash, had thoroughly enjoyed the visit as she particularly liked princesses.

Young Alan Hamad, nine, who was born with congenital cytomegalovirus, and is regularly in and out of hospital, was also visited by the stars of Cinderella.

His mum Paulina Skibicka, 27, of Bierley, said her son had been fascinated by the Ugly Sister’s bright red wig.

“He just kept staring at it. It’s lovely for the panto cast to come and visit the hospital as we don’t get many visitors.

“It’s good that they find the time as being in hospital can be horrible for the children.”

The cast’s visit to BRI has come an annual event, said Bradford favourite Billy, who is in his 19th panto season at the Alhambra this year.

He laughed and joked with staff, patients and their parents and stopped to take photographs with fans.

“I hope we haven’t caused too much of a disruption, but I think our visits do make a difference. I always come away from these visits with the feeling that it’s been worth it.

“It’s good to be able to put something back.”

He added that there had been a lot of changes at the hospital over the years he had been visiting, saying: “It’s like a hotel or an airport now!”

Coleen told the Telegraph & Argus: “It’s been very humbling and has been great to see the kids’ faces as we’ve gone around the wards.

“The parents have been more excited then the kids, I think, excited for their children.

“Coming somewhere like this just puts everything into perspective.

“If we can put a smile on one sick child’s face, then it will have been more than worth it.”

Sana Hussain, a 13-year-old patient was particularly pleased to meet Coleen.

The teenager had been in hospital for three days for some tests after being poorly for a number of months.

Sana said: “I felt like I was on a catwalk with all the photographers taking pictures of me with Coleen.”

Her mum, Debbie Durkin, of Clayton, added that Ms Nolan had been very open and down to earth and that the panto stars had succeeded in cheering the family up while they awaited Sana’s test results.

Hayley Collis, head of fundraising at Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity, said: “This is Billy’s 19th year in panto in Bradford, and it’s his also his 19th year here at the hospital.

“It’s an absolute joy for all the patients, families and staff to have them come on to the ward to provide a little bit of a distraction and what can be a terrible time for them.

“That’s what we do as a charity, working in collaboration with people like the panto at the Alhambra.”

Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity uses its funds to make a real difference to the care that people receive when they visit one of its hospitals, including Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Donations have been spent on mechanical chest compression devices, distraction toys for children’s areas, Wi-Fi for patients to use and a portable ultrasound unit.

To donate, visit bradfordhospitals.nhs.uk/about/charity, email charity@bthft.nhs.uk or call 01274 364809.

Cinderella runs at the Alhambra Theatre until Sunday, January 28.

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