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Panto fans who flocked to see The Lambton Worm at The Customs House have helped to raise more than £12,000 for its chosen charity.

The Lambton Worm cast with Chris Cookson
and The Charlie Cookson Foundation mascot.
Every year, a bucket collection after each panto performance raises money for a local good cause and in 2017, the theatre adopted The Charlie Cookson Foundation.  The South Shields-based charity was set in memory of Charlie Cookson, who battled several health problems in his short life and required 24-hour care.   He died in October 2013, aged just 30 months.

His parents, Sarah and Chris, have since poured their energy into supporting other parents with desperately ill children, with the aim of relieving the financial burden on families so they can spend precious time together.

Their coffers have been boosted by the proceeds of a record-breaking panto collection at the Customs House – a grand total of £12,349.30.

Sarah said: “We would like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who attended the show and kindly donated to our foundation. You have all helped to raise an unbelievable amount of money.  We are truly lost for words at the generosity that has been shown. Not only does The Customs House boast ‘The Little Panto with the Big Heart’, it also has the audience with the big heart too.   The difference this phenomenal amount of money is going to make to our inspirational families is priceless. We are going to be able to help even more families and relieve some of the burdens faced by them at such an important time.”

The Lambton Worm, which was written in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the famous north east folk song, proved to be one of the most popular recent pantos at The Customs House, seen by more than 26,000 people.

Ray Spencer, Executive Director of The Customs House, who co-writes, directs and stars as Dame Bella in the annual show, said: “We are delighted to announce that our The Lambton Worm panto audiences raised £12,349.30 for The Charlie Cookson Foundation.  Every year we are just astonished by the generosity of our audiences, who always dig deep to raise an impressive amount, but this year they have smashed all previous records. A huge thank you goes to everyone who donated.”

Next year’s panto at The Customs House will be Beauty and the Beast, running from Tuesday, November 27, to Saturday, January 5. Tickets are on sale now, with some performances already selling out fast. Contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or book online at

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