Lady in Christmas outfit holding bag of goodies

Pantomime legend Bernie Clifton and the real Robin Hood – aka Nottinghamshire actor Tim Pollard – have joined staff at an East Midlands hospice to make sure that their annual Christmas show will go on. Online that is.

Over the next week, patients of Treetops Hospice Care, will be given a special festive ‘Cake and Care’ support package delivered to their home by nursing staff and volunteers.
Man dressed as Robin Hood with bow and arrow

Tim Pollard, the Official Robin Hood of Nottinghamshire

Each package includes a Christmas decoration, handmade gingerbread and truffles, a Christmas cracker, a chocolate orange – complete with specially-knitted festive cover, and a card, which has been made by children at a local secondary school. The packages will also include an invitation to watch the pantomime – virtually. The pantomime, a specially-adapted COVID-19 compliant version of Robin Hood, has been filmed over the past month at Treetops, based in Risley. The script was redrafted several times to make sure that there were only ever three actors on set at any one time and also features references from lockdown, such as the high value of toilet rolls and social distancing.
Older man with life size puppet bird

Bernie Clifton with Oswald

Bernie Clifton, famed for his performances on popular children’s TV show Crackerjack – along with ostrich puppet costume, Oswald, has a special guest appearance at the start of the show. Tim Pollard, the Official Robin Hood of Nottinghamshire – who has also appeared on Blue Peter and Blind Date – stars as himself in a real coup for the hospice.

Normally at Christmas time, the hospice is full

Ali Jordan, senior staff nurse at Treetops, said: “Normally at Christmas time, the hospice is full of patients enjoying festive music, performances from magicians, carol singers, visits from our Pets as Therapy dog and other animals, and of course, lots of Christmas dinners! “Everything for the pantomime this year has been done online, from sourcing costumes to script read-throughs and there have been many challenges along the way, including creating a six-metre wide blue screen and filming in near freezing conditions at the hospice, with the doors and windows to our Wellbeing Space being wide open! “It felt like a proper film set at times, with actors sitting off-set in masks and coats to keep warm.”

Separated from their loved ones this Christmas

Lady in Christmas outfit holding bag of goodiesAnd Ali says that those patients who have received their packs so far have been delighted with their Christmas surprise. “Our patients have been cheered up by having a surprise to open and enjoy having the continued contact from Treetops, as well as the regular support calls we have been making, too,” she said. “Some of them are separated from their loved ones this Christmas and that is hard for them. Families are planning to wave through windows this year, rather than spending quality time with them and that’s very difficult.

Bringing joy and laughter to our patients, staff and volunteers

“Last year’s pantomime was so successful in terms of bringing joy and laughter to our patients, staff and volunteers and we’re lucky to have access to the expertise of a great audio-visual team here at Treetops, who have put together an Oscar-worthy panto. “We very much want to bring some joy to everyone after the hardship that many have endured this year and hope that the pantomime and Christmas Care packages will do that.” Treetops provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease and heart and respiratory conditions, those who are bereaved and their families. Last year, the hospice supported over 1,800 patients and their families.