Team Benson - touring champions!
Week 2 of our tour was a jam packed one! On the Monday we started with Zoe's place in Coventry. A very intimate show for three beautiful babies. Baby James cried a lot but at many times in the show he was engaged and smiling with his dad explaining parts of the story and singing bits of songs in his ear. A gorgeous and soft beginning to our week.
Tuesday we were in Stoke-on-Trent at Donna Louise Trust. We saw a very engaged 4-year old Tommy with his light sabre fall in love with the puppets and a teenager named Charlotte who was our wonderful Map Keeper following everything in the story. Next, we were in Birmingham and one of four Acorns Hospices where we adored their amazing outdoor Christmas decorations amongst a magical blanket of snow. Here we had Faisel laughing non-stop in his chair from the moment we started, and even the youngest baby engaged and joining in! Two of the carers who were dancing up the back became our air-guitar rockstars and they smashed it! Lots of smiles and laughter all round.
On Wednesday we were at Acorns no. 2 in Walsall. Ellie sung Rudolph with us and made us all so happy as she was beaming the whole way through and rocked out on the guitar at the end! A joyful show. We then headed to Acorns No. 3 in Worcester which was an intimate and engaging show - just two children and two carers as many families were held up by snow. Little Erin melted our hearts taking hold of Tom's hand and taking him for walks through the hospice. Owen who was older was our smiley Map Keeper and the carers were laughing and chuckling throughout.
Thursday saw us at Charlton Farm in Bristol, a converted farmhouse surrounded by a mountainous farm. Matthew and his brother were particularly responsive to the sensory elements of the show as sometimes they could not see the stage and came up at the end to say thank you which was very touching. We were moved to see the parents so emotionally affected by the show also. It reminded us of what a special job we have. Next that day we were at Little Bridge House in Barnstable where we had a fun show with four children. One of the patients, 10-year old Josh and his brother and sister had fun mucking around with us as we got ready. They loved the boisterous parts of the show the most - the snow ball fight and tearing open the present especially!
On Friday we did some Christmas shopping before heading to The Little Harbour Hospice in Cornwall for an evening show. From the moment we arrived, one of the siblings, 9-year old Jack, was singing on the karaoke machine as we set up. He opened our show with Hallelujah and We Wish You A Merry Christmas at the end, wanting to be involved at every possible moment. 5-year old Owen was so excited and involved jumping up on stage to tell us where Santa lives on the map. Baby Amelia, less than 1 year old, melted our hearts - transfixed for the whole show, and Daniel who fell asleep at one point woke up at the end to give Harry the Puppet a massive hug that had me chocked up with emotion. Such a beautiful show.
Saturday morning we had an early start heading to Julia House in Corfe Mullen where we were to perform for a group of teenage boys who (despite being older and very cool!) couldn't help getting involved in the show and singing along wearing reindeer antlers and winter warmers by the end. They all went to town in the snow ball fight with excellent aim (Elf was bowled over more than once). A stand out star was Connor, 16, coming up on stage multiple times to join in - lifting Tom up mid-scene and then appearing with a real guitar in hand as we started to sing. Everyone was in fits of laughter!
After a quick game of football with the lads, we hit the road for the second Julia House in Wiltshire, where one young boy helped us blow up the guitars by squeezing our bellies - we couldn’t stop laughing! The sensory elements went down a treat and the carers and parents enjoyed it almost more than the kids. Huge laughs were had by all with our Frosty The Snowman winning the best dancer award - this little Elf wasn't even needed!
After an intense and jam-packed tour, we couldn't believe we had made it to the end. But on Sunday we headed to our final hospice of the tour, Naomi House in Winchester. We had a big full crowd of all ages and this audience particularly loved the sensory elements of the show with everyone getting involved in some way. One boy could not see, so we introduced the puppets to him before the show - which he was reluctant to let go of. One boy was jumping up and down in his chair and grinning from ear to ear and the girl we chose for our air guitar competition was so keen she stood up from her wheelchair to play and rock out with us. We found out later she plays the drums - we must have seen it in her ;)
Then before we could say "Benson's Christmas Letter", our amazingly rewarding, laughter filled, heart warming and affirming tour had come to an end and it was time to come home. We had an incredible time performing in so many amazing hospices for so many beautiful people. It was a privilege and a joy to witness the work the carers do and to add to these amazing places by bringing some Christmas cheer to people who deserve it most. Thankyou Christmas For Kids 2017, it's been a joy.