Stage stars brought cheer and Christmas sparkle to children’s wards as they took time out to sprinkle some festive joy at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The actors are part of the cast of Beauty and the Beast, which is at Sunderland Empire until New Year’s Eve.

They escaped the show’s cursed castle to visit paediatric units at the hospital.

Charlie Hardwick, who plays Fairy Bon Bon; Miss Rory, who is Rorina La Plonk; Olivia Birchenough, who stars as Belle; Tom Whalley who is cast as Louis La Plonk; Samuel Wyn-Morris, who performs as Beast and George Olney as Hugo Pompidou all helped brighten the day of patients, staff and families on the wards.

Some youngsters they met were inpatients, while others were visiting for the day for treatment or an operation.

Laura Hayden-Duck is the Matron for the hospital’s F63, a children’s ward which looks after head and neck, trauma and orthopaedic patients, F64, a general paediatrics ward, and F65, which cares for those aged 18 months and under.

Laura said: “It’s been really exciting, the children love it and we’re so grateful to the cast for coming along. Something like this always makes a real difference to our day.

“They are always so fantastic with the children and our visitors. They’re always entertaining and their families always find it brightens their day too.

“We go the extra mile on our paediatric wards to make Christmas as special as we can for our patients.

“They might be feeling unwell or visiting us for a procedure and we know they might be missing out on the events they would have had at school or clubs and with their loved ones.

“A visit like this makes it a better stay and it’ll be something they’ll remember for years to come.

“We’re so thankful to both actors and the team at the Sunderland Empire for their support once again. It’s so good of them to take time out to come and see us.

“It also helps raise the spirits of our staff as well, who will be continuing to work hard over the festive period, so a thank you from them for coming in to visit.”

Tom Whalley said of the panto stars’ visit: “For us, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the pantomime but panto wouldn’t be panto without a heart-melting visit to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

“We love seeing the kids and parents’ faces light up when a tsunami of sequins bursts onto the children’s ward!

“It’s always a treat too to have a laugh with the wonderful staff who work tirelessly over the festive season and are doubtless the real stars in Sunderland.

“Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!”