POORLY youngsters in Bradford Royal Infirmary’s children’s unit were thrilled this afternoon when the stars of this year’s Alhambra Theatre pantomime, Aladdin, visited in between shows.

Members of the cast went along in full costume to bring some cheer to the children and young people in the new unit, as well as to entertain the nursing staff.

Comedian Billy Pearce, who is playing Wishee Washee, said: “It’s become a tradition for the cast to visit BRI and it’s a real pleasure for us to do so. The staff make us so welcome and when we see the smiles on the children’s faces, it makes it all worthwhile. 

“I can’t praise the NHS and all it stands for highly enough; I owe my life to the NHS after a very bad motorbike crash a couple of years ago. The staff here in Bradford do a fantastic job and we love coming to visit the children.”

David O’Mahony, who plays evil sorcerer Abanazar: “I came to BRI two years ago when I was last performing at the Alhambra in panto and the difference is amazing this year. The new children’s wards are awesome. It must make a real difference to a hospital stay for youngsters.

“I spent a lot of time in hospital when I was six growing up in London and I wish it had been like this. I can’t praise the NHS highly enough. My dad’s a doctor and several other members of my family work in the NHS too. 

“We have to keep on fighting to save it. Today’s visit has been amazing,”
Billy is now in his 20th pantomime season at the Alhambra Theatre and was awarded the Pride of Yorkshire’ award at the Welcome to Yorkshire’s Y18 tourism conference at the theatre in March.

During his hospital walkabout yesterday he was accompanied by Blue sensation Simon Webbe; Sarah Goggin (Princess Jasmine); Carl Sanderson (The Emperor); David O’Mahony (Abanazar); and Emily Beth Harrington (Shererazade).

The hospital’s state-of-the-art facilities are part of the hospital’s new £28 million wing and include two paediatric wards, a children’s clinical decision area, school room, play room and dedicated teenage lounge.

A lot of the ‘luxury extras’ were provided through community fundraising.

The facility was opened in March 2017 and visited by HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.

The new facility took two years to build and is also home to a 16-bed intensive care unit, dementia-friendly wards for the elderly and a new retail concourse.