Ballet among the bedpans...

Amy Drew and Richard Read, principal dancers from the English Youth Ballet, on the children's ward at Stoke Mandeville Hospital
Amy Drew and Richard Read, principal dancers from the English Youth Ballet, on the children's ward at Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Sick children were treated to a private ballet performance on their hospital ward by a leading dance company.

The English Youth Ballet created a rehearsal studio and theatre on the children’s ward at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, in the run-up to its forthcoming performances at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre.

Principal dancers Amy Drew and Richard Read, who perform the lead roles in the show, and ballet mistress Julianne Rice-Oxley provided a dance workshop and private performance for children and staff.

Tom, aged eight, said: “The dancers were great. My sister will be really jealous because she loves dancing.”

The workshop began with the dancers demonstrating a ballet warm-up at the barre, before performing the White Swan Pas de Deux from Act Two of Swan Lake in full costume.

The audience then had the opportunity to get their Swan Lake posters signed by the dancers and ask them questions.

Play specialist Nicola Ruff said: “It really took the patients’ minds off what they are going through.

“It was so lovely when Richard and Amy did a walk around to visit the patients who were not well enough to watch the workshop.

“I think it will be an experience they will never forget.”

Company manager Ben Garner said: “Stoke Mandeville Hospital is very special to English Youth Ballet as it inspired the company to bring our performance into hospitals for young patients to experience ballet, most of them for the first time.

“It also inspired us to raise money towards items and equipment to help them during their stay.”

In 2012 the company raised £2,700 for the children’s ward at their performances, enabling it to purchase three new oxygen saturation monitors.

Since then, the company has raised over £30,000 for children’s wards across the UK, close to the theatres where they perform.

The company is hoping Swan Lake, at the Waterside on April 24 and 25, will raise more money to help the hospital purchase new beds so parents can stay overnight with their children.