CHILDREN at Southampton General Hospital were turned to the dark side when movie stars paid them a visit.

Stormtroopers from the Star Wars films entertained children as a welcome break from hospital life.

Members of the UK Garrison attend a number of charity and corporate events to play Lord Vader's henchmen.

The actors all work voluntarily providing their own transport to events and paying for their own costumes.

All the outfits worn by members of the UK Garrison, a branch of the world wide 501st Legion, have to be approved by Lucasfilm who made the Star Wars movies.

In 2006, the UK Garrison, which is made up of more than 200 people from builders to policemen, raised around £40,000 for charities such as Children In Need, MediCinema and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Katy Weaver is a Hospital Play Specialist at Southampton General. She said, "We have a lot of long term patients on the children's wards and it's great for the children to have something like this. The children love it and so do a lot of the dads."