Festive fun at the panto for Isle of Wight primary schoolchildren


More than 100 children from Binstead Primary School travelled to Portsmouth to enjoy a performance of Sleeping Beauty at the New Theatre Royal, supported by Wightlink.

The ferry company helped the school with travel costs and liaised with the theatre to arrange the visit. The cast even sent a special video message to the children to watch before the show.

Pupils enjoyed an afternoon of magical entertainment from the professional cast led by rising star Amy Everett as Aurora – Sleeping Beauty – and Eastenders and Holby City actress Carli Norris as the evil villain Carabosse. Carli and Amy were joined on stage by pantomime regular and award-winning actor Kevin James as Chester the Jester, Broadway and West End star Edward Baker-Duly who played the King and Michael Neilson in the role of Dame Nurse Nellie.

Headteacher Rebecca Chessell says: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our children. Many of them have never been to a pantomime, or been off the Island without their parents, so it was wonderful to be able to give them this experience.

“The pantomime was superb, from beginning to end. Both Wightlink and the theatre went out of their way to make it a special day for the children. Thank you so much from all of us at Binstead Primary School.

“We had a wonderful time – especially as we were lucky enough to meet the cast after the show – and I am confident that the children will treasure their memories of the trip for years to come.”

Head of Marketing at New Theatre Royal, Andy Sheppard, adds: “We aim to make the theatre as accessible as possible, especially for our younger audience. Many children have never visited a theatre before and it’s a really magical experience to see a show like a pantomime. We were absolutely delighted to welcome Binstead Primary, along with many other school children from the local area, who have all been totally enthralled by this year’s show. We were thrilled to be able to work with Wightlink to support their local school partnership and we hope that the children enjoyed the performance and the chance to meet the cast after the show.”

Phil Delaney, Wightlink Commercial Director says: “As it was more difficult for schools to travel during the pandemic and trips were put on hold, this Christmas we wanted to offer our partner schools the opportunity to enjoy a trip to the mainland to enjoy a traditional pantomime.

“It was a pleasure to welcome everyone onboard – the children were brimming with excitement which was wonderful to see.”

Binstead Primary School is one of Wightlink’s designated partner schools – the ferry company is developing close links with the five primaries nearest to its terminals to work on a series of educational and aspirational projects.