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Mildreds and Sister Act for our VIPs

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When you’re looking for a memorable experience in London, then dinner followed by a trip to see a West End musical is definitely top of the list. Last week, we treated some of the families supported by Spread a Smile to just that.

We began the party at Mildreds Restaurant in Covent Garden where not only did our families get to enjoy a delicious vegan dinner, they were also entertained throughout with singing, amazing magic, face painting, arts and crafts and our gorgeous therapy dog Buddy, who also came for some cuddles.

After our tummies were full, we headed down to a very special relaxed performance of Sister Act The Musical at London’s Dominion Theatre. The excitement filled the auditorium as everyone relaxed into their seats and enjoyed the amazing show, featuring a star-studded cast. One of guests, Evie, aged 13 was so excited to see actor Ruth Jones perform as she is a big fan of hers and said after the show: “Ruth definitely waved at me!” with a smile from ear to ear.

Evie’s Mum Jo said, “Honestly, thank you from the bottom of my heart. The work you do is just amazing and I’m not sure that thank you is enough for the happiness my girl is feeling right now.”

Viktoria, mum of Emily (13) also said, “We would love to tell you how wonderful you all are! Thank you for all your hard work and lovely smiles to make so many little lives happy. We had a wonderful time with you all and special thank you to the magician Nick, he really blew our minds with his amazing magic!”

We are so grateful to our friends at Mildreds for their continued and generous support and to everyone at the Dominion Theatre for making us so welcome.

Spread a Smile completely relies on donations and support from generous individuals and organisations to fund family events such as this. Please donate here to help ensure we can continue to provide this support for many more families. Thank you.

Mamma Mia – My, my what a show!

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My, my what a show! The team from Spread a Smile had a glorious afternoon taking nine of the families we support to see Mamma Mia the Musical at the Novello Theatre in London.

Our VIPS loved watching the smash hit musical, singing, dancing and clapping along and the smiles were as bright as the theatre lights.

After the show, our families were incredibly lucky to meet several members of the cast, who kindly gave up their time to pose for photos and answer any questions our families had. Tessa, 10, who wants to be performer asked, “do you ever forget your lines?” and “do all the cast members get on?”.

Lauren, mum of Elsa (13) said “Thank you so, so much for yesterday it was amazing and as I predicted Elsa has not stopped telling everyone especially how she “met the characters” – I keep telling her they are the cast! She has taken the programme into school today. I honestly cannot express our gratitude as always, words do not seem enough.”

A huge Spread a Smile thank you to the cast of Mamma Mia for being so amazing and taking the time out of their busy schedule to meet our families after the show – you’re all Super Troupers!

To find out more about our family events, click here.

A day to remember at The Lion King

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Spread a Smile’s theatre trips for the families of seriously ill children really are something special and last week’s trip to see The Lion King musical at the Lyceum Theatre, London was no exception.

An incredible 10 families joined us for this special treat and we made sure they were completely spoilt. With a pre-show party full of delicious pizza, snacks, face painting, magic, singing and Lola’s Cupcakes, our families were able to relax and enjoy themselves, sharing many laughs and smiles together.

The Lion King is an incredible spectacle and our guests had a wonderful time, escaping into the magic of Africa. The performance was followed by a meet and greet with some of the cast members, who generously came out to spend time with our VIP guests and building on special memories for years to come.

Noah absolutely loved it, from the moment we stepped foot into the building we felt so very VIP  like royalty, spoilt rotten by the team at Spread a Smile. Every moment felt so magical. Noah was very excited and as soon as it started, he was mesmerised, singing along to the songs, repeating the script and wiggling away to all the beats.

“Noah was blown away during the meet and greet, he had his eyes locked in on the cast the whole time and he felt so special having pictures with them.

“Thank you so much for such a magical, enchanting VIP experience and for making us feel so very special. We had to remember to take off our invisible crowns on the way out! I’m so grateful to you and the Spread a Smile team for giving us such a special memorable experience that will be imprinted on Noah’s memory for a lifetime.” Khadijah, Noah’s Mum

A huge thank you to everyone at the Lyceum Theatre and the cast and crew for making us feel so welcome. Also to Lola’s Cupcakes for the delicious treats.

“Thank you to you and the extended team for such a wonderful day and the pure joy of experiencing the Lion King for the first time. Eva loved every minute and was so lovely to see her confidence grow since the last session to chat to everyone, you do really all make everyone feel at ease. Such wonderful memories to cherish.” Claire, Eva’s Mum

Please donate to help ensure we can continue to provide these wonderful moments of respite and joy for the seriously ill children and families we support.

Providing respite in the magic of Frozen

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Alongside in-person and virtual entertainer visits to seriously ill children in hospital, Spread a Smile organises a variety of outings and events for the families we support.

Our aim is to provide special days out for the whole family so they can enjoy themselves together. Last week we took 17 children and their siblings and parents to watch Frozen on stage at the Drury Lane Theatre in London.

As always, Spread a Smile created a wonderful, welcoming environment and pre-show party with magic, face painting, art and a sprinkle of fairy magic. Our guests were also treated to pizza, snacks and delicious cupcakes donated by our friends at Lola’s Cupcakes.

After the show, the incredible actors playing Elsa, Ana and Kristoff came out to meet the families, helping to spread even more smiles and magic. It really was a wonderful day.

“Kian and I had the most amazing day. Kian hasn’t stopped telling anyone who will listen about the brilliant spread a smile team, the show and meeting his favourite Disney princesses.

“The whole team were fantastic and we just wanted to pass on our thanks to you all. I believe Kian’s exact words were ‘I’m the luckiest kid in the world’.” Danielle and Kian

We are so grateful to everyone who helps make these events possible; our donors, fundraisers and supporters, Lola’s Cupcakes, the amazing cast and crew of Frozen and the Drury Lane Theatre and Disney UK.

To find out more about our work and accessing our services, click here.

New year family events

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It’s been a busy start to the year, with some incredible family events and outings for some of the children, young people and families we support.

We once again returned to Underground Cookery School in partnership with cancer support charity Teens Unite Fighting Cancer, inviting young people affected by serious illness to learn how to cook a delicious 2-course meal from scratch. As always, it was a fun day, filled with much laughter, providing a relaxed opportunity for the young people to learn new skills and then sit down together to enjoy the meal they had prepared. Outings such as these are hugely important for the young people we support as they provide respite and a chance to connect and share their experiences in a safe environment whilst simply being a teenager amongst other teenagers.

We also invited families to join us for visit to see Wicked at the Apollo Theatre in London – a wonderful experience and a lovely way for families to spend time together, allowing moments of escape in to the magical world of the theatre.

Last month our good friends at Mildreds Restaurants welcomed families for a delicious afternoon tea at their London restaurant. This monthly initiative is always such a joy, with Spread a Smile entertainers on hand to add to the fun. Often these afternoons enable children and young people going through treatment for serious illness to meet other families in similar situations. To see the smiles and relaxation makes everything we do worthwhile.

We know that everyone in a family is deeply affected by the illness of a child or sibling. Our outings, events and activities aim to support young patients, their parents, carers and siblings and bring moments of respite, joyful experiences and enduring memories at the most challenging of times.

Thank you to Underground Cookery School, Mildreds Restaurants, Apollo Theatre for helping to spread smiles and make all of our family events possible.

To find out more about our family events, please take a look here or register your interest.

First family event outside London

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Last month, as part of Play in Hospital Week 2023, we were proud to organise our first ever family event outside of London.

18 families from Leicester Children’s Hospital and Nottingham Children’s Hospital joined us for a theatre trip to see ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. It was such a special evening as one of our very own Spread a Smile singers played the role of Tink and Mrs Darling in the show.

Our guests were treated to delicious cupcakes from Lola’s Cupcakes and a goody bag from Hasbro plus a meet and greet with the cast after the show which involved a Q&A. Every family was able to take photos with their favourite cast members and they even got to see the magic of Peter Pan flying!

“I just wanted to message and say a massive thank you for tonight. We all had the best time at Peter Pan Goes Wrong and we appreciate the memories we made tonight so much. I find it overwhelming the kindness shown to our special little warrior. Keep up the hard work as the memories that your charity brings are priceless.” Parent

Laura Walter, Director of Services for Spread a Smile said, “We’re so glad we were able to meet so many of our families in person from Leicester and Nottingham Children’s Hospitals. We have seen first-hand just how important it is for our families to be able to experience these special times outside of hospital and we are delighted that we could bring so much laughter and happiness for a wonderful evening together.”

A huge thank you to all of our families for joining us, Lola’s Cupcakes and Hasbro for their kind donations and the team, cast and crew from Mischief and Peter Pan Goes Wrong for their wonderful support and kindness.

Please click here to find out more about our family events and outings.