Christmas came early for lucky pupils at Raunds Park Infant School who enjoyed a panto performance prize surprise courtesy of Croyland Car Megastore, alongside a visit by its mascot Cooper the dog.

Children at the Northants school were delighted when Croyland’s canine mascot surprised pupils who were preparing to enjoy a digital performance of the pantomime Aladdin in the run up to Christmas.

Children celebrated winning the digital panto prize package after a competition was staged on social media by Croyland Car Megastore, which hundreds of people participated in, to nominate their local school with the chance to win the prize.

Youngsters at the winning school were delighted to watch the digital panto performance of Aladdin by Eva Long Digital Pantomimes after being announced as winners of the Croyland Christmas competition.

As an additional festive fun treat Croyland sent their mascot Cooper the dog to meet schoolchildren before the curtain went up on the digital performance.

Croyland Car Megastore General Manager Mark Swindells said: “We were delighted with the overwhelming response we had to our Christmas competition, which attracted more than 230 comments and nominations. We wanted a local school to be able to enjoy their own festive treat this season and the Croyland competition was one of a number of ways we continue to support our local community.

“We were so pleased to see how much the children loved meeting Cooper during his surprise visit to the school on the day they enjoyed their panto prize!”

Pupils made festive props prior to watching the digital pantomime performance and tucked into treats while watching the show.

Lisa Jeffery, Headteacher at Raunds Park Infant School, said: “The children at Raunds Park loved their visit from Cooper the dog - it caused much excitement when they met him in the playground. They loved his high fives and of course giving him hugs!

“They also had a lot of fun watching the virtual panto, lots of laughs and audience participation. It was a lovely, festive treat in our last week of term. Thank you to all those who nominated us to win the prize and of course to Croyland Motors.”

Eva Long, of Eva Long Digital Pantomimes, added: “We were thrilled to be invited to be part of the competition Croyland Car Megastore ran for a local school to win one of our digital pantomimes. We have the community at the heart of our business and we are trying every way possible to bring joy and entertainment to children this Christmas.

“They have missed out on so much because of Covid and our digital pantomimes have been a fantastic alternative for those schools that cannot make a trip to the theatre this year. Having seen the photographs of Raunds Park Infant School enjoying their pantomime we can see how much fun the children had and are honoured to be part of that. Well Done Croyland Car Megastore!”