And we're off! Team Benson on the road...
Our first show was with a small audience, with the wonderful people at Rainbow Hospice in Loughborough. It was so nice to perform an intimate show for all their young residents - you could see the sparkle in the eyes of the children, enjoying every twist and turn of our tale and smiling as they listened to our songs. The sensory elements of the show were very well received by carers and children alike.
Then we visited Bluebell Wood Hospice in Sheffield. We met the football-mad Callum and the enthusiastic Jack. There were a few more family members watching the show this time, and they were all getting involved! Diane, the events manager, was a great sport dressing up as Frosty The Snowman for us. After the show we all went and met Lewis and his African Gray parrot ‘Shadow’. We sang a few Christmas songs in his room with our puppets Harry, Benson and Maurice. His mother and family were so grateful because Lewis had missed the show (because he was asleep!)
Friday came, and a new venue to C4K, St Andrew's Hospice. The special thing about this venue was that both the children’s and the adults' hospices were in one building. Everyone came together to enjoy the show and watching the adults seeing the children having fun was wonderful! After the show we were shown around the facility. We were amazed at the level of care the children received, with spaces catered to their every individual need. My particular favourite was the Sensory Room, with projecting lights, soft play and waterbeds where the children receive treatments.
Saturday morning brought us to Martin House, the second ever children’s hospice to open in England. The love in the building was very apparent, it felt very much like a home. Leighton was the first child to greet us, inquisitive and enthralled by our set and props. Our map keeper today was incredibly enthusiastic and, once the show was finished, was up and dancing away!
That afternoon, we were in a massive sports hall with the local community in Huddersfield rallying around the Forget Me Not Hospice. A brass band was playing and even Santa was in attendance! It was our biggest audience to date with families and friends of the children all around enticed by our singing and puppetry. Fun was had by all: a lovely way to end our first week on tour!