Ahead of his 'Snow and Tell' shows, Robin Hemmings explains the power of storytelling

A little red motorbike snakes its way along a country lane. The warm summer sun shimmers in the morning sky and glints off the top of Henry’s white motorbike helmet as he turns into a gap in the hedgerow.

Henry opens the gate and pushes his bike through, remembering to shut it after him. He drives down the track across the field, over the little wooden bridge to another gate. After he’s shut that gate behind him, he crosses another field before arriving outside Topsy and Turvy’s Burrow where he beeps his horn and waits. Mrs Bunny opens the door.

“Hello Henry,” she says. “Hello Mrs Bunny. Lovely day!” replies Henry.

Before he can remove his helmet, two tinier bunnies, Topsy and Turvy, bounce through the door. “Hello Henry!” they cry. “Where are we going today?”

“I thought we’d go to the seaside!” smiles Henry.

“Yippee!” shriek Topsy and Turvy and the two bunnies jump up into the little box on the back of Henry’s motorbike.

“Have fun!” laughs Mrs Bunny, “Remember to be back for tea. I’ve got carrot stew in the oven and carrot cake for pudding! Be good now.”

“Bye mum!” they yell. Henry says goodbye and the three friends set off, back across the field for another day of adventures.

As a child, I went with Henry, Topsy and Turvy on many adventures while tucked up in my bed. My dad let the narrative flow until the three adventurers made it home in time for tea and I, with my eyelids drooping, fell asleep. I never questioned why a man was friends with two rabbits, why the rabbits could speak or why their burrow had a front door. I just enjoyed the stories.

Some of their best adventures were retold again and again with me correcting any changes in plot that I remembered differently. None were written down.

That was just part of the nurturing my imagination had. There were books with other stories, Lego, Matchbox cars, toy guns and many, many cowboy hats. My sense of play inspired my mum to suggest Stagecoach which, in turn, led me to drama school and an acting career. I love the magical, imaginary world of stories, where anything is possible. I love hearing and telling them in all the many ways a story can be shared. Christmas always feels to me like a time when we can take a breath, an opportunity to see friends and family, let bygones be bygones and give a bit of love to our fellow humans. Perhaps give a story.

At The Story Museum I’ll be telling a couple of Christmas stories interspersed with a sing-song — something gentle and intimate for families with littler little ones. I have chosen The Elves and the Shoemaker because I’ve always enjoyed the story and the generosity of spirit within it. Why DO they help the old shoemaker? Also, the idea of little elf clothes makes me smile.

I have also chosen A Christmas Carol because it’s fantastic — an annual reminder of what is important in this funny old world we live in.

Snow and Tell runs at The Story Museum, Pembroke Street, Oxford, from December 5 to January 4, for age three plus. Book tickets (£4-£7.50) by visiting ticketsoxford.com or call 01865 305305.