Oh yes they have! Kettering panto cast praised for raising £40k for hospital

Kettering mayor James Burton with panto director/choreographer Katrina Rufeea
Kettering mayor James Burton with panto director/choreographer Katrina Rufeea

A pantomime put on by Kettering General Hospital staff has raised more than £40,000 for patient care over the last 20 years.

And the event – probably one of the last surviving hospital pantomimes in the NHS – celebrated its 20th birthday on September 26-28.

After this year’s three shows the cast – who are called the Trust Timewarpers – were honoured by the Mayor and Mayoress of Kettering, Cllr James Burton and his wife Lorraine.

Cllr James Burton presented the pantomime’s Director and Choreographer – Katrina Rufeea AISTD –with a memorial glass star to mark the fundraising work for patients done by so many staff over so many years.

Katrina, who recently retired as an Infection Control Nurse at KGH, said: “The pantomime has certainly grown and developed over the last 20 years and about 40 members of staff have trod the boards with us.

“Each year we try to come up with outlandish plots related to current practices, wards and departments, managers and senior medical staff loosely based around an actual pantomime theme.

“We deliberately put in numerous jokes and references to people and roles to give the staff a laugh in a non-political but humorous way. An opportunity to roast them all. How I kept my job I’ll never know.

“It’s now got to the point that the managers say that we know we’ve made it when we get a mention in the pantomime and what an honour to have become one of the pantomime characters.”

Each year’s pantomime actually starts in May with rehearsals on a Wednesday evening in the social club. Staff give up their time freely to practice their song and dance routines and learn their lines - many attending after a 12-hour shift.

After months of rehearsals they then have a technical run with sound and lights, followed by a dress rehearsal in costume and make-up and finally the three nightly shows. Everyone involved in the show both on-stage and backstage does so voluntarily including front of house staff, the band, the stage manager and the sound and lighting technicians.

Katrina said: “As well as having a lot of fun our aim has always been to raise money towards better patient care and help buy equipment that was much needed.

“There are many, many examples of where we have bought equipment for wards and supported many new ventures to improve care for patients.

“The events are always well attended and demonstrate the strong community spirit we have at KGH.”

“Of course it hasn’t been without its trials and tribulations. Over the years we’ve had a few costume disasters, the sound system overloading, a few last minute emergencies and forgotten words usually covered by hilarious impromptu remarks.

“However our audiences have been wonderful, laughing out loud, heckling and booing, even getting up on the stage to join in with us including senior managers. Overall I think we provide a fantastic boost for staff and patient morale.”

Kettering General Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Quality, Leanne Hackshall, said: “I would like to personally thank Katrina and the Timewarpers for keeping the shows going and giving up their own time to provide a great morale boost and many, many, laughs.

“They are such an asset to the hospital. We all look forward to seeing who ‘is in or out’ and our personalities and roles are interpreted into the play…even if this makes you squirm in your seat.

“So far I been portrayed as a fairy and an air hostess, and I still go back for more….brilliant.”