Week Two was upon us. And we were raring to go. After a good night’s sleep on Friday night after Cricket Green School, we were up early on Saturday morning to make our way to Guildford to visit Shooting Star Chase Hospice.
Christmas For Kids have been visiting Shooting Star since the very beginning, which is nearly ten years, and we were eager to meet the lovely Senior Carer Barbie, whom Claire and Sue had told us so much about.
The hospice was looking beautiful (they had had some sterling help in getting their Christmas decorations up!) and the space we were in featured a gorgeously decorated Christmas tree which was the perfection addition to our set up. We had a wonderful intimate show with several children and their carers all of who looked fantastic in reindeer antlers and were up for some fun. They even gave us a hand painted canvas to say Thank You - we were totes overwhelmed!
After a couple of days off, we headed to University College London Hospital (UCLH). It was a crisp, sunny winter’s morning and I had a great drive going through the centre of town and over Tower Bridge for the first time!
The children’s ward was quite high up so we were greeted with some wonderful views across London from the day room in which we were performing. The show went very well with children of all ages coming along to watch - we even had some slightly older children who couldn’t help but love sweet hairy Harry! This was a more poignant show with some of the children clearly very ill but most of all, knowing they were ill. It was nothing but a joy to bring them and their loved ones some smiles and fun on that sunny Tuesday.
For our next two shows, we had to travel a little further afield and we arrived at the point we’d really been looking forward to - our overnight stay! Unlike Teams Harry and Maurice, Team Benson only had one stopover on our tour as we mainly performed in places within driving distance from London.
Now, you may think we were overdoing it a little by getting excited about an overnight stay at a Premier Inn, but you would be wrong, Reader. For this was a very nice Premier Inn. Or perhaps we needed to get out more… regardless! We headed up to Ipswich for an afternoon show at the EACH (East Anglia Children’s Hospices) Treehouse Hospice. And what a tree house it was! Surrounded by trees and with a beautiful wooden front, this warm and modern looking hospice was in fully party mode when we got there. There was even a Christmas photo booth, (the C4K photo shoot came later!) and everyone was really ready to have some fun. Our contact and activities assistant Dan was a fantastic Snowman in our show, donning the costume like a pro and going around all the children to make sure they got a good look at his carrot nose - what a hero!
Another really great show with very warm and welcoming hosts.
We then had a rather dark and spooky drive through the wooded and deer-full Thetford forest. I say ‘we’ - Bethaney and I were wide awake, our dear Matthew was in the midst of one of his many car naps! He became very good at those over the course of the tour…!
After a night of chatting and making paper trees ahead of our show the next day, we retired to bed ready for the next day. We had quite a nice lie in for Team Benson with the alarm not going off until 8am!
We arrived at another EACH hospice - this time the Quidenham branch, which was in one of the buildings that made up the Carmelite monastery. As you might expect, it gave the area a very peaceful and calm feel to it.
With some of the children unable to make the show, we ended up having a very intimate show with just one lovely girl and three carers joining us. But we THE BEST time. As a team we have done the extremes of shows going from a school of over one hundred children to a hospice with just one! But I think the carers might have enjoyed it even more than we did… once the show finished, we collected up all the snowballs and one by one they called in their colleagues to surprise them with a wad of incoming snowballs! Hilarious.
Both our shows the next day were big ones as they were Christmas events. In the morning we were in the South West, down in Gravesend to be at the wonderfully orange Ellenor Lyons CH. The main hub of the hospice had wonderfully high ceilings with a natural semicircle set up and a large christmas tree decorated with messages to loved ones. Our host Tina personally greeted every family which came in to join us and we ended up with quite a large crowd including a few siblings who were eager to get up and join in our band at the end of the show! Check out their websites for all the amazing adventurers and experiences you can do to raise money for them, like trekking the Great Wall of China!
We then had to pack up quick and get on the road and into the Dartford Tunnel to go around to the North West of London to Borehamwood! This was the Noah’s Ark Christmas Party and they had hired out a huge hall for the occasion. Even Santa was there!
We needed our big voices for this one and worked hard to make sure everyone was still involved even with a large audience and not much wiggle room to get into it. With so many families being together, we had some wonderful moments - you know the ones where you can people are making memories?
As we packed up, we were kindly brought some cupcakes and slices of pizza which had all been donated to the event which was a much welcome treat for the journey home. Back round the M25 we went and home for a big bath and a glass of wine. All in all, a brilliant day.
Bring on week three: more fun, laughs and anti-bac-ing snowballs! Go on, Bethaney!
Much love and touring japes, Laura, Matthew and Bethaney xx