The Force will be with diners at a Wrexham restaurant in as they raise cash to fight cancer while celebrating the launch of the new blockbuster Star Wars film.

To mark the long anticipated UK premiere of the blockbuster space epic, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, on December 15 (today), staff at Pizza Express at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre will be appearing as their heroes from the iconic sci-fi series and encouraging customers to make a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support.

So trooping through the restaurant that Thursday and over the following weekend to help create the right hyper-space atmosphere will be a colourful procession of characters like Darth Vader, Han Solo, Mara Jade and a cheeky little Ewok.

The Odeon cinema, close to Pizza Express, has a special screening of the new film starting at one minute after midnight on Thursday December 15.

Pizza Express manager Celine Larnicol, who will be transformed into the sinister figure of Darth Vader, said: “Macmillan is the official partner charity of Pizza Express and over the past few years we’ve arranged a number of special events to help raise cash for this very special cause.

“Last year our customers contributed around £600 when we hosted something similar to coincide with the opening of the previous Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, and with their help we’re aiming to top that total this time.

“We’ve got about six staff, both from front of house and the kitchen, taking part. We’ll have collection boxes around the restaurant and I’m sure people coming here to eat will be as generous as ever.”

Celine’s big-hearted staff are taking the latest Star Wars event very seriously and one of them, 29-year-old waiter Robert Williams-Day, reckons he’s spent between 50 and 70 hours painstakingly creating the Tusken Raider costume he’ll be donning.

Robert, who lives in Wrexham and has worked at Pizza Express in Eagles Meadow for the past six years, said: “I suppose I’m a bit obsessed with sci-fi films with a desert theme after seeing the first ever Star Wars film when I was a boy.

“I wanted my costume to be as authentic as possible so I’ve put quite a bit of effort into getting it just right. To get the correct shade of brown I tried out various blends of tea and coffee before choosing the perfect one to dye the fabric of the robe.”

Robert added: “My nine-year son Rhys is also a bit of a Star Wars fan so he’ll also be coming along in costume, possibly as Luke Skywalker.

“I think Macmillan does a great job for people with cancer and their families, so I hope our customers will give as much as possible if they like our outfits.”

Another avowed Star Wars fan joining in the fun will be 22-year-old waitress and supervisor Ceri Jones from Wrexham.

Ceri, who has worked at the restaurant for four years, said: “My little brother was well into the films so I spent a lot of time watching them at home.

“I’ve made my own Mara Jade costume, which I think looks pretty good. Last year I appeared as Han Solo but this year I really wanted to be one of the girl characters.

“It’s very handy that the new film will be screened just a few doors away from our restaurant at the Odeon cinema, which will help build the excitement of the occasion.”

Directed by Gareth Edwards, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the latest all-action chapter in the long-running space saga and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk.

Set in a time of conflict, it tells the story of a group of unlikely heroes who band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction.

As well as helping with the medical needs of people affected by cancer, Macmillan also looks at the social, emotional and practical impact cancer can have, and campaigns for better cancer care.

The charity’s goal is to reach and improve the lives of everyone living with cancer in the UK.