THE of Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s nationally renowned pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk visited patients and staff at Dr Kershaw’s Hospice on what has become an annual highlight marking the start of the festive season at the hospice.

Richard J Fletcher, Sam Glen, Mitesh Soni, Shorelle Hepkin, Jenny Platt, Sophie Mercell and Patrick Bridgman – set off for the Royton hospice as soon as the matinee curtain fell.

They chatted with patients and staff and posed for photographs in the Well-Being Centre before heading to the temporary Inpatient Unit to visit patients in their rooms.

Lyndsey Donbavand, quality and governance manager at Dr Kershaw’s Hospice, said: “It’s been great for everyone – the patients on the inpatient unit ward and all the well-being patients can’t wait to see the actors and find out what this year’s panto is all about.”

Lee Buckley, complementary therapist at the Hospice, added: “The patients always look forward to the pantomime visit every year, it’s become a bit of a tradition here. They love the theatrics of it all, the costumes and having a chat with the actors. It’s a really lovely thing for them to experience. It’s wonderful, absolutely wonderful.”

The cast also heard about the plans for the hospice’s new build which is currently under construction. The works will transform the 12-bed inpatient unit into individual en-suite rooms with views of a newly landscaped garden.

This is the fourth year the Coliseum’s pantomime cast have visited the hospice to spread Christmas cheer in a collaborative event arranged by theatre and hospice staff.

Last year pantomime favourite Richard J Fletcher had the patients in fits of laughter as he told jokes from the 2018 pantomime Cinderella.

After 11 years as the Coliseum’s beloved pantomime comic, this year Richard plays the Pantomime Dame for the first time as Dame Dotty Trott. He arrived at the hospice in a dress dedicated to Oldham Athletic, complete with a meat pie, sausage roll wig.

Richard said: “It’s a highlight at the beginning of our pantomime run each year to go and put smiles on people’s faces at Dr Kershaw’s because they do such a great job.”

Teresa Beaty, volunteer at Dr Kershaw’s Hospice, said “It’s good fun, it’s entertaining and it’s something different. We all enjoy it - you think pantomime is only aimed at children but a lot of adults get so much joy out of it.”

Jack and the Beanstalk runs Saturday, January 11. This year’s pantomime is sponsored by George Hill Timber and Building Supplies, Jigsaw Group and N Brown Group. Jack and the Beanstalk’s educational partner is Oldham Hulme Grammar School.