THE children’s ward at the Great Western Hospital echoed to cheers, giggles and rapturous song as literature’s most famous castaway, Robinson Crusoe, brought excitement and a welcome break from treatment to young patients.

Starlight Children’s Foundation transformed the unit into a pop-up theatre, surprising youngsters with a performance of its action and gag-packed summer pantomime yesterday afternoon.

In a twist on the classic story, the heroic captain of the Good Ship Lizzie’s mission to seek out adventures, treasures and discover strange new lands was brought to an abrupt halt when he became shipwrecked off an unknown exotic coast.

There he met an array of eccentric characters to the spectators’ delight, including Man Friday, the beautiful Princess Moonflower and wicked pirate, Captain Hogwash.

Every year, Starlight provides entertainment and distraction to sick children in Swindon as well as thousands of others across hospitals and hospices in the UK.

The show, produced by the Panto Company, follows on from a storytelling session held by the charity at GWH in March and its uproarious production and Christmas party in December.

GWH senior play specialist Claire Parks said: “Every year we look forward to Starlight’s Summer Panto.

“We know that play can significantly help to improve a child’s hospital experience and Starlight’s Summer Panto gives our patients a chance to forget their illness and have some fun.”

Starlight is a national charity that grants wishes for seriously and terminally ill children and provides entertainment in hospitals and hospices across the UK.

Neil Swan, the chief executive of Starlight Children’s Foundation, said: “All of Starlight’s activities are aimed at distracting children from the pain and anxiety that they might be feeling as a result of their illness and Starlight’s summer panto is always hugely popular.

“We hope that this performance of Robinson Crusoe was just what the doctor ordered.”

For more information on Starlight Children’s Foundation, visit