New home found for panto knitted hearts

Children from Rooftops Nursery in Richmond are pictured playing with the knitted hearts.

The hundreds of knitted hearts used during the Georgian Theatre Royal’s recent pantomime have found new homes at local nursery schools.

The hearts were knitted by volunteers in the community for the festive production of Beauty and the Beast.

However, once the pantomime season came to an end they were no longer needed and so the theatre set about finding places for them to go.

Among those to step forward were five local nurseries and schools – Rooftops Nursery in Richmond, Little Learners Nursery Centre in Scorton, Scorton Village Pre-School, Carnagill School, Catterick, and Banana Moon Nursery at Catterick.

Others were given away to audience members in the last week of the show for a small donation that will be used to support the historic theatre, which is a registered charity.

“People put such a lot of time and effort into knitting for us that we are always keen to find new and appreciative homes for each and every one of them,” said Clare Allen, chief executive of the Georgian Theatre Royal and the pantomime’s director.

“During this year’s show, the audience threw the hearts onto the stage to bring the Beast back to life with a symbol of their love.

“It is therefore very fitting that this love should live on, and the hearts will continue to give pleasure and enjoyment to so many children.”

The nurseries will be using the hearts in lots of different ways to support various learning and recreational activities.

“We are delighted to have been given all the lovely hearts,” said Debbie Kilburn, manager at Rooftops Nursery in Richmond.

“Some will be incorporated into a seasonal Valentine’s window display and others will be used for soft play, as well as matching, counting and sorting. The children really love the bright colours and how soft they are!”

Using knitted props is a long-standing tradition at the historic theatre and many people get involved in their production.

Over the years, there have been bananas, apples, leaves, doughnuts and even a huge patchwork blanket that covered the auditorium when the audience were sent to sleep in the 2018 production of Sleeping Beauty.

While most of the hearts were made by locals, a surprising number were sent from much further afield with packages arriving from all over the UK and abroad.

This year’s donations included some beautiful rainbow hearts from Norway, as well as some from Scotland that were carefully embroidered with the theatre’s initials.

Knitters also used their creativity to demonstrate their personal passions and there were hearts with ‘NHS’ written on them and others that were decorated with the Yorkshire White Rose.

“One of the great things about our pantomime is that it involves the whole community,” said Clare.

“We also run an annual children’s pantomime arts and crafts competition and of course the pantomime itself is enjoyed by all generations.

“We have yet to announce what people will be knitting for the 2022 production of Pinocchio, but we will, of course, let people know as soon as possible.

“We are so very grateful to all those who have knitted for us over the years and hope they will continue to be part of this much-loved tradition.”

Tickets are now on sale for Pinocchio, which runs from Friday, December 2, 2022 until Sunday, January 8, 2023.

Tickets are available from the box office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk