University students help prevent schools from cancelling show after Pontins suddenly closes down

  • ITV Granada Reports journalist Mel Barham met the school children as they rehearsed for their concert

University students have stepped in to prevent hundreds of schoolchildren from having to cancel their annual performance after a holiday park suddenly closed down.

Pontins announced its closure "after assessing the future viability of the park" in Southport, Merseyside, in January 2024.

It left schools without a theatre to host their event.

With 300 primary school children taking part in the show, the Equality and Diversity Concert brings 11 schools together from across Crosby.

Becky Woods, Headteacher at St Nicholas CE Primary, said she thought it was not going to go ahead at one point until Liverpool University offered to help.

She said: "It is absolutely amazing! So to be here in this fantastic venue, the children [are] so excited, the staff [are] so excited.

"We cannot thank Mountford Hall enough for coming forward and giving us this venue for free, so that the concert can go ahead, and the children can get to perform and all their hard work can come to fruition.

"The Merseyside area, it's such a special place. We knew that our community would come forward and help us, and low and behold, yes they did. And did it with style!"

Teachers feared that the annual show would need to be cancelled. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

The concert, taking place on 7 March, was originally scheduled for the beginning of February.

Vasiliki Samuels, President of the Students Union at the University of Liverpool, believes it was a "no-brainer" to reach out.

She said: "I know they've probably put so much hard work into this performance and it's probably a core memory for them to be able to perform in front of people, and they've worked so hard.

"And a lot of our job as student officers as well is linking in with the local community.

"So essentially I saw it as an opportunity, and they might be perspective students in the future so it gives them a bit of a taste of the opportunities in the Guild as well as the university."

Lucinda and Lila, performers in the show, said: "I just felt like we've been practicing all this time and we've got the dance all together, missing break times and our after school activities."

11 schools took part in the Equality and Diversity concert from across Merseyside. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Pontins tried to help by offering alternative venues, but none were suitable for the hundreds of parents who bought tickets for the variety show.

Kerry Scott, Headteacher at St Mary's Little Crosby, said: "It's such a wonderful thing that all the schools take part in.

"It celebrates how unique we all are, how diversity everything is, and then to have it taken away when they've worked so hard was really upsetting. And the thought it might not go ahead was even worse.

"We're so grateful to have this, it's such a wonderful venue, it's a massive stage, the biggest we've ever had - it's remarkable. So a massive thank you to the university."

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