Published Monday, 7th December 2020

The Harlequin in Redhill’s resident panto Dame, Simon Bashford, has been spotted at the theatre – but not in his usual outrageous garb, and with fewer antics!

He’s been helping local charity Stripey Stork, who are using the Harlequin’s auditorium to run their annual Christmas campaign. Santa Stork supports local families who really need a helping hand at this time of year.

Helping families in need

Simon Bashford packing a gift for Stripey Stork's Santa Stork campaignSimon Bashford is a much-loved part of Christmas at the Harlequin, playing the Dame for the past seven years. He said, “We are missing panto dreadfully this year, but it’s heart-warming to be back treading the boards – this time, helping families in need rather than performing. I’ve loved volunteering today and it really brings home how essential the support is that Stripey Stork offers - they will make all the difference to so many families this Christmas.”

Stripey Stork Founder and General Manager Nicola Dawes said, “Every Christmas our Santa Stork campaign ensures thousands of local children receive a new gift. Sadly the pandemic means that the need is greater than ever this year and we’ve already reached a record high number of requests. The Harlequin’s auditorium is the perfect space for allowing our volunteers to work safely. We’re thrilled that Simon could come to lend us a hand and see the sheer scale of the project for himself!”

Supporting each other

Cllr Alex Horwood, Executive Member for Wellbeing and Intervention, said: “While we are sad not to be staging our pantomime this year, we were so pleased to be able to lend Stripey Stork the space for this campaign that provides vital help to the local community. It’s been fabulous seeing Simon back, and the great work that is being accomplished in our large theatre space is a positive reminder of how we can all support each other.”

Find out more

The Harlequin reopened its cinema and café doors last week, with a fantastic array of festive films on show, and Christmassy treats and events in the café. Find out more on the Harlequin's website.

The Santa Stork campaign is accepting gift pledges until 18 December. Find out more about the campaign and how to donate at