Pantomime stars from a local community group have been thanked for bringing joy to families over the Christmas period.

Dennis Ffrench and Rebecca Shepherd from Gazebo Theatre travelled around Bilston and other parts of Wolverhampton dressed as The Dame and Cheeky Fairy, handing out wellbeing packs to families who have struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic as part of Gazebo’s Mindful Support Project.

The packs included toys, toiletries, keyrings, face masks, stress balls, recipes and other special gifts designed to help with people’s emotional wellbeing. 

All contents of the packs were sourced and bought from local small businesses and artists, supported by local charity Simple Acts of Kindness, with a team of young people, parents, carers and volunteers from HeadStart Wolverhampton helping to identify local families and individuals who would benefit from a wellbeing pack.

Councillor Linda Leach, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Services and councillor for Bilston North, said: “I cannot thank Dennis, Rebecca and everybody at Gazebo Theatre enough for bringing joy to residents across the city over the festive period.

“2020 was a tough year for many families in the city and the wellbeing packs, combined with seeing Dennis and Rebecca in their striking pantomime outfits, will have brought smiles to their faces.”

The festive period was also a cause for another celebration for Dennis, who celebrated 25 years as a pantomime dame – making him the longest performing black pantomime dame in the UK.

He said: “Handing out these wellbeing packs was the best way I could think of to celebrate 25 years as a panto dame. Our local community has supported me for many years, keeping me going through hard times. It was a pleasure to return the favour to them.”

Rebecca added: “It was fantastic to visit some of our city’s families and give out our wellbeing packs. We wanted to show them that although times are tough, there is always a reason to be cheerful – and I hope that seeing Dennis and I in our costumes brought the joy of the panto to their front doors.”

Gazebo’s Mindful Support Project, which is funded by the Government’s Emergency Covid-19 Fund and distributed through the National Lottery Community Fund, aims to support the local community with loneliness, poor mental health, poverty and digital exclusion. For more information, please call the Mindful Support Helpline on 07393 018271 or email