A magical start to the Christmas season was given to 500 needy children by the Freemasons of Berkshire with a visit to the Theatre Royal Windsor to watch Cinderella. Coach loads of excited children arrived with parents and carers, to be greeted by Father Christmas in the lobby and handed a ‘goody bag’ filled with fun items, the glow sticks being a particular success.
The cast of Kevin Cruise as village idiot Buttons and Stephen Blakely as the dame were joined by Ann Widdecombe as the Fairy Godmother. Basil Brush as Baron Hardup, BGT winner and heartthrob Jai McDowall as Prince Charming, Dreamboats and Miniskirt’s leading man Alex Beaumont as Dandini and former Blue Peter presenter and Miss Northern Island Zoe Salmon playing Cinderella. The children provided a great audience, putting as much into the performance as the cast and the noise they made was wondrous to hear! Ice cream for all added to the festive fun and as usual the 12 Days of Christmas malarkey was a big hit!
Martin Peters, the head of the Berkshire Freemasons, met the guests of honour from the Alexander Devine Charity who had a great time [picture above] and the less than elfin ‘Elves’ and willing helpers were made up from Freemasons across Berkshire who were directing the children to their seats and dishing out goodies.
Michael Brown, the organiser of the Panto Project [pictured right] said: “The Berkshire Freemasons Panto Project was enjoying its 11th consecutive year, by coincidence with the same pantomime, Cinderella, as at its launch, at the Hexagon all those years ago. The aim is to give a magical day out for children who are terminally ill, disabled, under privileged, or with educational difficulties. We buy all 600 seats in the theatre and distribute the tickets to various organisations. Recipients of the tickets this year included DASH (formerly Women’s Aid), Addington Special Needs School, Daisy’s Dream, Family Friends Windsor, Alexander Devine and the Sebastian Trust. The project is funded through the Berkshire Masonic Charity, with help from The Maidenhead Advertiser Louis Baylis Trust, and Individual Masonic Lodges from across Berkshire make donations towards the cost. Mike continued…“We do all the preparation so that all the organisations are asked to do is get the children there and we will ensure that they have a great time”.