Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 15.04.13A group of students have made their stage debut in front of a capacity crowd at an iconic venue more used to hosting top comedians and famous bands.

More than 200 students from Year 7 at Emmanuel College, Gateshead, got to experience performing before a packed house at Newcastle City Hall in a collective Christmas worship.

It was the first time the whole year group, who joined the college in September, had performed together and, for many, it was the first time they had ever been on a stage.

Along with the Emmanuel senior and junior choirs, the students led the singing in the college’s Christmas carol service from beneath the City Hall’s famous organ.

Head of school Matt Waterfield said: “It is great that our Year 7s are able to mark the end of a great first term by leading the college in song in our annual carol service and helping us to celebrate the birth of Christ together.

“It could be nerve-wracking to sing in front of such a huge crows by the all rose the challenge magnificently and sang their hearts out. I hope their parents, siblings and other family members in the audience were as proud as we were.”

The event, which brought together 2,500 students, staff, governors and families, also featured the college orchestra and solo singing, playing and Christmas Bible reading sled by Year 7 student Reuben Podbury, who opened the evening event.

Others who took part were singer Rebecca Conway and readers Harry Sanderson, Sophia Beadle, Peace Fashanu, Max Abdulgani, Sophie Prest, Kirk Boyd, Lucy Beeston, Charlie Thompson, Rebecca Iceton, Owen McManus and Matthew Penney.   

The service was the last for outgoing college principal Jonathan Winch, who, after 12 years, accepted an invitation from directors to become executive principal, responsible for educational improvement across the Emmanuel Schools Foundation.

He told the audience: “The last 12 years have been the most important of my professional career but it is time to pass the baton on.

“Emmanuel College will remain the flagship but my vision is that many more thousands of young people from some of the most needy parts of the North of England should enjoy the same character-first education that your sons and daughters enjoy. Emmanuel is not just a school, it’s a family, and long may that continue.”

The guest speaker at the service was John Bates, father of Lord Michael Bates and a member of the Emmanuel College founding team.

After reminiscing about the college’s opening 25 years ago, he said he hoped the Christian ethos would continue to underpin both students’ academic success and development of character.

He added: “I would like to see Emmanuel students caring for the poor and marginalised. We are now in a global world and I would like to see Emmanuel students at the forefront.”

“We are living in very uncertain times; we could easily succumb to fear, but it is my firm believe that the best is yet to come.”

Referring to the “inspirational” astronaut Tim Peake, he told students: “I hope his achievements will excite you and that you will reach for the stars and make your own contribution in life. All of us can do more than we think.”

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