YOUNG patients had plenty of fun as they sat down to enjoy the annual Great Western Hospital panto.

An empty bed on the Children’s Unit was transformed into a colourful stage – while a semi-circle of the hospital armchairs served for an ample auditorium.

Four grease-painted players left youngsters giggling at the hour-long performance of Cinderella.

The technicolour pantomime has become an annual tradition at the GWH unit.

The busy ward has beds for two dozen children. Yesterday, the ward was swarming with babies – and there were just two children enjoying the slapstick fun of the panto.

They were joined by parents and ward play staff.

Claire Parks, senior play specialist, said: “Christmas is a really exciting time of year for children and events like this help bring all the magic and sparkle of the season to hospital.

“It’s easy for youngsters on the ward to feel like they’re missing out on festive fun, so it’s brilliant for us to be able to treat them to this intimate performance which is sure to be filled with the kind of Christmas spirit that only panto can deliver.”

The annual pantomime was put on by touring theatre group Starlight. The classic tale of Cinderella featured cameo appearances from 'ugly sisters' Mel and Sue.

This year, their actors will perform an astonishing 90 plays in hospitals across the country.

On Wednesday morning they played to hospital children in Southampton, before heading up to Swindon.

Sue Wildman, head of children’s services at Starlight, said: “We’re hoping this performance of Cinderella will be just what the doctor ordered.”

Izzy Felstead could barely talk, after spending the night in hospital following a tonsil removal.

Asked if she was looking forward to the play, the 16-year-old music student nodded and smiled.