Strictly Manor for star Alesha

Alesha Dixon with Manor College of Technology headteacher Alan White walking into the Fens Hall at the college. Picture by FRANK REID
Alesha Dixon with Manor College of Technology headteacher Alan White walking into the Fens Hall at the college. Picture by FRANK REID

PERFORMING arts students were treated to a strictly special surprise of a lifetime when television and singing star Alesha Dixon paid them a shock visit.

The youngsters at Manor College of Technology, in Owton Manor Lane, Hartlepool, couldn’t believe their eyes when the Strictly Come Dancing judge strolled into school yesterday morning.

The former Mis-Teeq star, who also has a hugely successful career as a solo artist, was in Hartlepool to mark the opening of a new music “boom-room”.

But it was by no means a flying visit from the one-time Brit nominee.

She enjoyed a tour around the whole school, met more than 250 performing arts students and even sang with a group of talented and lucky pupils.

Year 9 pupil Callum Rayment, one of the students who sang with Alesha, said it was a day he will never forget.

Callum, 14, who lives in the Rift House area of Hartlepool, added: “We had no idea who was coming but I had to go and welcome her and show her around.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw it was Alesha Dixon.

“She was so nice and very inspiring. She was telling us never to give up and that we would make it if we had the belief.”

Alesha, who won the 2007 series of Strictly Come Dancing before becoming a judge on the celebrity show two years, later gave an inspirational talk to all the students and showcased her talents when she had a go on the drums.

The superstar visit was organised by the sister of PE teacher at the school, Paul Atkinson, who is a close friend of Alesha’s after working with her as a costume designer on Strictly.

Ellie Hopwood, director of performing arts at the school, couldn’t speak highly enough of Alesha after the morning visit.

Miss Hopwood said: “Alesha was absolutely wonderful. She had all the time in the world for the children.

“There were around 250 children who were so excited to see her, they couldn’t believe it and she spoke to them on an individual basis.

“For her to sing with some of the children as well was a brilliant experience for them.

“It was such an inspirational morning for the children.

“The new boom-room which she opened is a fantastic facility for the children and is going to be brilliant for them in years to come.”

Headteacher Alan White, said the morning was an unforgettable experience and one of the highlights of his 16 years at the school.

He said: “Alesha had such a profound effect on the children.

“She was an absolutely beautiful girl in every sense.

“What an unforgettable experience for the staff and the children, especially those who sang with her.”