An extra special production of Far from the Madding Crowd was performed by the New Hardy Players - inspired by a very brave little girl.

Husband and wife director duo Howard and Alison Payton of the New Hardy Players raised money for Dorset County Hospital through the production as a 'thank you' after their granddaughter Mathilda received treatment after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer just after her third birthday.

Mathilda fell very ill in 2018 and was finally diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis following many tests at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

The cancer affected the bone of her skull and required a year of chemotherapy, with frequent stays at GOSH and Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

Mathilda was extremely poorly during this time and the strain on her parents and family was severe. The care and support she and the whole family received from the NHS was outstanding and Mathilda is now on the road to a good recovery.

After Mathilda completed her chemotherapy treatment last October her mother Jenny raised money for the wards in which she’d been treated.

This year, following six sell-out performances of Far from the Madding Crowd, Howard and Alison have chosen to donate £1,000 to the Kingfisher Ward at Dorset County Hospital after liaising with the matron, Anna Ekerold.

Mr Payton said: “We felt it was extremely important to support our local NHS services who work so hard and with such dedication for our local community.”

Mrs Ekerold said: “We were surprised and delighted with the donation and have suggested the money is used to buy ‘put-you-up’ beds for parents who need to stay overnight on the ward with their children.”

Simon Pearson, head of fundraising at Dorset County Hospital Charity said: “We are very grateful to The New Hardy Players for their continued support and know that the money raised will be put to good use on Kingfisher Ward. With the help of donations like this we can continue to support projects that make a huge difference to our patients and the people who care for them.”

For more information about the work of Dorset County Hospital Charity email or telephone 01305 253215.