Harrogate panto to help poorly children in hospital

Lifting spirits in Harrogate and Ripon hospitals - Harrogate Theatre panto legend Tim Stedman, right.
Lifting spirits in Harrogate and Ripon hospitals - Harrogate Theatre panto legend Tim Stedman, right.

A pioneering project to live stream Harrogate’s popular annual panto to poorly children in hospital is receiving the backing of key local organisations.

Backed by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, Harrogate Theatre is organising live HD stereo streaming of its family panto starring panto favourite TimStedman in Harrogate and Ripon hospitals for free for all patients, as well as nurses and staff.

Marcus Romer, Harrogate Theatres artistic associate.

Marcus Romer, Harrogate Theatres artistic associate.

This hi-tech project, believed to be the first of it kind in Yorkshire, means this year’s panto, Jack and the Beanstalk, will be beamed live into Harrogate District Hospital’s 90-seat lecture theatre, as well as a large TV screen in its Woodlands children’s ward.

It’s a major collaboration between Harrogate Theatre and the hospital which flicked the on switch for its site-wide patient Wi-Fi network earlier in the year.

Angela Schofield, Chairman of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust said: “It’s never great for anyone to be in hospital at any time of the year, Christmas is certainly a particularly challenging time for our patients.

“This is especially true of our younger patients, who no doubt want to be at home celebrating the festive season with their families.

“We’re delighted to be working closely with Harrogate Theatre to turn this idea into a reality and make such a positive difference for patients, their relatives and our staff, not just at Harrogate but at Ripon Community Hospital, too.”

The key figure in delivering the project, Marcus Romer, the theatre’s artistic associate, says support has been flooding in for the panto livestream project from local firms such as Bettys & Taylors.

He said: “People are really getting behind this innovativer project and it’s a great way for businesses to link their name to something which will do so much to lift the spirit of patients in hospital, especially children.”

Angela Schofield said there would be health benefits to working with Harrogate Theatre, which has enjoyed a spectacular revival in fortunes in the last decade with a minimum of financial support from the public purse.

She said: “We are a strong supporter of arts in healthcare settings so this initiative complements a lot of what we already do.

“There is growing evidence that art can influence the health and wellbeing of patients and staff.”

The new initiative in Hareogate reflects a growing movement in this direction which has seen doctors across the country being encouraged to prescribe arts activities like drama, creative reading and group singing instead of anti-depressants, through a new multi-million-pound Government scheme.

The £4.5m fund will be divided between projects in 23 areas in England.

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