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Holby City star Guy Henry goes on stage with Highcliffe Charity Players

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Guy Henry joined the Highcliffe Charity Players on stage at the Regent Centre
Guy Henry joined the Highcliffe Charity Players on stage at the Regent Centre

HOLBY CITY star Guy Henry joined the cast of Highcliffe Charity Players on stage as their January 2019 production of Cinderella became the best attended panto in the history of Christchurch Regent Centre.

The show, which was rolled out for 10 performances between January 19th and 26th, had been co-written by Charles Michael Duke as he awaited double lung transplant. The performances were attended by a total 3,812 people.

Just as this year’s panto reached its climax during the sold-out matinee show on Saturday 26th January, Regent Centre manager Felicity Porter arrived on stage to announce that Cinderella was the highest grossing pantomime of all time, beating the previous record set by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 2017.

She was joined by actor Guy Henry, who is also a patron of the charity, to present a cheque for £250 to Charles on behalf of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust – a charity which he promotes.

The audience heard that Charles’ lungs had collapsed whilst performing live on the Regent stage during the Christmas Spectacular show in 2015. He then had to wait for nearly three-and-a-half years for his double lung transplant, and he awoke from his operation to hear the Cinderella script he had co-written with Stephen Hutt had been chosen for the January 2019 show.

To add to this achievement, just three months after his operation Charles also secured the pivotal role of Buttons.

Felicity said: “We are all so thrilled that Charles’ operation has been such a success and we want to acknowledge the wonderful NHS and the donor for making it all possible for Charles.

"They would all be really proud to see Charles on stage today stealing the show and all our audiences having an absolute ball at his pantomime!”

Guy, who plays director of surgery, Henrik Hanssen, in the BBC’s hit medical drama, got his first experience of the stage in the 1970s when at the tender age of 11 he appeared in a HCP panto.

“I have to say that this pantomime was beautifully done, with lightness of touch, humour and warmth,” he said.

“The charity players really are a fantastic company, absolutely brilliant, and as president, I have watched Charles work both back stage and as part of the creative team for the past few years and what a great, great pleasure it is to see him back on stage this afternoon. He is so wonderfully gifted, really professional and superb.”

After the cheque presentation, Charles was given a big bag of chocolate buttons and a voucher for a meal out for two after the show.

Charles, on accepting the cheque on behalf of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, thanked everyone for all their support and joked: “Next time I will have to give myself a few more solos to sing on stage!”

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