Dame breaks ankle while delivering opening line in Henlow pantomime

Ray Wood in his dame's costume

Ray Wood in his dame's costume - Credit: Archant

A grandfather playing the dame in a village pantomime last week broke his ankle while delivering his opening line.

Ray Wood with his x-ray after his double ankle break

Ray Wood with his x-ray after his double ankle break - Credit: Archant

Ray Wood, chairman of Henlow Amateur Theatrical Society (HATS), was playing Nurse Moppett in the group’s production of Babes in the Wood on Friday when he fell off the stage while riding a scoooter and wearing a frock and high heels.

The 68-year-old was taken in an ambulance to Bedford Hospital to be treated for a double ankle break, but the show went on in his absence as backstage member Chris Proctor stepped in to play the dame after a 30 minute delay.

Ray, who has been with HATS for 20 years, said: “At 8.10 on Friday evening I deliberately fell off my scooter, which is part of the performance, but my foot got caught, I fell off the stage and heard an enormous crack. Despite the pain I still managed to cry out my opening line ‘Oh I’ll never be the same again!’

“Chris stepped in for me and performed excellently on the night and on Saturday’s evening and matinee performance. When the curtains were reopened, Chris was in the place where I had been, so he sort of regenerated like on Doctor Who. It was a very strange experience watching the panto on the monitors while I was waiting for the ambulance to come.

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“While I was being carried off stage and treated, the audience were offered a refund, but they all decided to stay despite the delay. Except for my grandson who nipped out for a beer. The audience were very sympathetic.”

Ray left hospital on Sunday with nine screws in his ankle and has been told he won’t be back on his feet for at least six weeks.

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He added: “I’m feeling frustrated at the moment, but Bedford Hospital were absolutely excellent. We are doing a series of one-act plays in May so hopefully I will be able to audition for them. It’s certainly the strangest thing that has happened to me on stage in the past 20 years in Henlow.”

All proceeds from the performances of Babes in the Wood have been donated to the Bedford branch of Samaritans, with £408 raised form the first night of ticket sales and the theatre donating £346 from seven raffles held during each performance.

A spokesman for Bedford Samaritans said: “We are extremely grateful to HATS for their efforts to raise funds on our behalf to support our work.”

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