First destination – Sittingbourne. Demelza House Hospice.
We arrive in our jam packed sky blue fiat 500 brimming with excitement, joy and anticipation for our very first show to the parents, carers, and children that we’ve made the show specifically for. Up to around 50 or more kids and their families were entertained by us that day in a show that included many highlights: such as an incredible air-guitar solo by one boy who eyed up the inflatable guitar as soon as it appeared on stage. Finally being able to share this world with the audience that it was meant for was a breath of fresh air. Seeing the children’s faces light up as the sensory story got them involved as it was perfectly designed to do was a personal highlight. Adapting to a larger audience was a challenge we overcame and also learned from. Seeing a child who’s confined to a chair smile in awe at the miniature Christmas letters we’d designed to hang above them like a mobile was a heart-warming moment for sure.
Show 2 – Keech House – Luton
A short journey up the M1 was next instore for team Maurice. This time playing in a local SEN school to the hospice itself. Our audience was set up so that small children could sit on comfortable mats surrounded by their parents/cares at the back and performers at the front.
We begin our shows with getting familiar with our audience, going round and learning names, gearing up the Christmas cheer to set the mood for the show to come. Seeing the children come out of their shells when talking about Christmas and what they hoped to get was endearing and reminded me what a great thing it is to be a child at Christmas. The show once more went off without a hitch and our chemistry as a 3-person team was really starting to show. We had a few charming children who enojoyed the whirling blizzard snowball fight a little too much and carried on throwing the snowballs throughout the end of the show!
Show 3 – Blossom house SEN school – New Malden
South west London was our next stop and our first time in a high functioning SEN school.
A different and larger audience than what we were used to but for us this was merely a different challenge that we moulded to. Straight away the students of primary school age were laughing at the jokes but keeping extremely attentive to each word that was spoken in the story. The staff, just like the families and carers in shows previous, were thankful for our storytelling and interaction. Another chaotic snowball fight was definitely a highlight, and also a twinkling singalong by all students and staff of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. All were captivated as the darkness fell and the finger lights came on...
Show 4 – Hope House – Oswestry
Our furthest stop yet resulted in also our first performance in a hospice itself.
Seeing the wonderful building that we were performing in was heart warming. The staff were all so caring and the children were charming and were enchanted with our story.
This was definitely a more relaxed and intimate setting, and our show took a new level of sensory care as we could see how appreciated it was by the audience - as many were bed bound but still full of personality and playfulness.
Show 5 – Claire House Hospice – The Wirral
As we stayed overnight in a hotel, we made the short drive to Claire House for our first of 2 shows in one day! We were greeted by a blanket of snow as we arrived at our destination, adding a Christmassy feel to our already magical show. As we moved into our fifth show, as a cast we have become aware of the particular points in the show where we can take our time and interact with everyone as much as possible. The moments where we bring out ‘Penguin Bait’ has become a personal favourite as we have the children feeling different materials that we imagine to be used as Penguin bait for our Scandinavian Fisherwoman Svetlana.
Show 6 – Zoe’s Place – Liverpool
After packing up and shooting across the Mersey into Liverpool, we were quickly again unpacking to set up for our second show of the day. This was our youngest audience so far and we were greeted by a chatty 5yr-old boy who shared with us his fascination with the inflatable fish we had! Backed by a wonderful snow shower, this quieter but bewitching show brought smiles to all the four children in front of us.
Traveling around these hospices, I’m continually in awe of each care team's personality, character and attention to care for anyone who attends the Hospice. Each show reaffirms why we are there and how crucial it is to find the joy in every moment we share with our young population as it can mean the absolute world to them, especially at this wonderful time of the year!
On we go to discover more stories and create more memories in children’s hospices across the country!
Team Maurice – Scarlett Maltman, Sophie Delin and Peter Edwards