December should see thousands of local residents filing through the doors of the Palace Theatre to enjoy the annual pantomime but sadly that’s another tradition that has fallen victim to the impact of COVID-19.
Instead, the Palace team has made the decision to bring Christmas joy to Newark families in another way – staff and volunteers will be contributing gifts to be distributed to local good causes and are inviting members of the public to support this campaign too.
Business Manager Carys Coulton-Jones explained: “Our team has missed the buzz of having our doors open all through this year, but will feel it even more acutely at panto time as it’s always the highlight of our year.
“Particularly because it’s our centenary year, we wanted to help spread a little Christmas happiness in whatever way we can. We are so proud to be part of this community and I’m thrilled that the team is supporting it in this way”.
Duty Manager Emma Driffill added: “We usually do a staff secret Santa but that’s not really practical this year, with everyone generally working from home and the lack of opportunities for us to get together.
“But we’re all very aware that a lot of people find Christmas difficult and it may well be even harder for many this year so we thought we’d shift our secret Santa efforts to being a not-so-secret Santa for the wider community!”
The Palace gifts will be distributed to organisations including Newark Women’s Aid, The Emmaus Trust, Beaumond House, YMCA, Homestart and more.
Gifts should be valued at between £5 and £10, or can be a stocking filler of under £5. They should be wrapped and have a temporary label including who the gift is suitable for (ie age range and any gender bias) and a rough guide as to what’s included (ie a book, a toiletries set, sweet treats and whether it is a stocking filler gift).
Gifts should not include any alcohol. Many of the good causes have particularly requested donations for older teens and adults.
Contributions can be left under the tree at the Palace Theatre Box Office between 10am and 2pm from Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th December inclusive.
Carys said: “There have been so many examples of the town’s community spirit through this year and I know people will join with the team here in supporting this drive at Christmas.
“I hope it can encourage people to pick up gifts from local retailers and then donating them to these excellent causes. Christmas might be different in 2020, but it doesn’t mean it can’t still be special.”