Hundreds enjoy Bournemouth panto for free as part of charity initiative

Bournemouth Echo: BEHIND YOU: Excited children get ready to go in to the panto BEHIND YOU: Excited children get ready to go in to the panto

CHRISTMAS came early for hundreds of children from Bournemouth on Friday as they watched a free pantomime.

Around 400 youngsters enjoyed a performance of Aladdin at the Pavilion Theatre in the town thanks to an initiative organised by Bournemouth Borough Council’s Early Years Service, backed by LV=.

It is the third year that the council has arranged the free event, to which families most in need are invited.

And this Christmas, tickets went to Julia’s House, Linwood School, Springbourne Family Centre, young carers, foster children and families requiring support from housing and homelessness charity BCHA.

Julian Sandy, the early year’s service community engagement officer, said: “We’re very lucky to have some wonderful support that makes this possible every year. The Rotary Clubs of Westbourne, Boscombe and Southbourne have provided a free ice cream for everyone, and if it wasn’t for LV= not only financially backing this, but also providing volunteers, I don’t know how we’d do it.”

He said many of the children at the performance would not otherwise be able to see a pantomime.

“This really is the start of Christmas for lots of these children, The aim is to give a festive experience to families who might not otherwise be able to afford it,” he said.

This year’s pantomime at the theatre features CBeebies star Chris Jarvis and EastEnders actor Scott Maslen.

Brian Smith, the president of the Boscombe and Southbourne Rotary Club, said: “It’s what Christmas is all about.

“The children are so excited to be here, and it’s just wonderful.”

Aspiring musician Casey Baker, 17, said she knew a number of people playing in the band during the performance. “It’s going to be really good,” she said, And for Ringwood District Brownie Caitlin Wood, it was an especially important day.

“It’s my birthday,” she said.

“I’m eight. I really like finishing my birthday with a pantomime as it feels special.”

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