Hundreds of people in challenging circumstances were able to experience the magic of panto in South Tyneside thanks to generous bosses at a local travel agent.
More than 400 tickets for this year’s pantomime, The Lambton Worm, at The Customs House, South Shields, were given out through the Hays Travel Foundation.
Hays Travel has sponsored the annual pantomime at The Customs House for more than a decade and last Christmas, they wanted to do something slightly different - by gifting the tickets.
The families were chosen to attend a performance earlier this month through different charities and schools in the area, and by applications to the foundation.
In all, this year’s production was seen by over 26,000 people
The South Shields-based Charlie Cookson Foundation, which supports parents of children with life-limiting conditions, was one of the charities invited to the event.
Joanne Nicholson, fundraising and events manager, said: “We cannot thank the Hays Travel Foundation enough for giving our families the opportunity to attend this year’s pantomime at The Customs House.
“Christmas is always such a tough time of year for our families, with some spending it in hospital, so to be able to offer this to them was just amazing.
“Each family who attended had a fantastic time and enjoyed every bit of the day.”
The Hays Travel Foundation was launched in 2015, on the back of the company’s commitment to community activities and charity fundraising since the first shop opened in Seaham, County Durham, in 1980.
It is now the UK’s largest independent travel agent.
The Foundation aims to grant funds to registered charities for children and young people that support the advancement of education, sport, health, art and culture, alongside the relief of poverty.
John Hays, managing director of Hays Travel and co-founder of the Foundation, said: “For over a decade, Hays Travel have sponsored the Christmas pantomime at The Customs House and it is a great event.
“We wanted to give families who don’t normally have the resources the chance to have this experience.
“We did this through the Hays Travel Foundation. It was a fantastic afternoon, filled with lots of fun and laughter.”
Fiona Martin, deputy director - learning and participation at The Customs House, said: “We were really delighted that Hays Travel Foundation generously gave these children and families the opportunity to see our pantomime.”