X Factor star Lola Saunders has gone back to school – as guest of honour.
The former Whitburn Church of England Academy pupil made a special appearance at the school’s GCSE class of 2015 awards ceremony.
The star, who shone on ITV’s hit talent show last year, made a speech at the ceremony before surprising pupils with a special performance at the end of the evening of celebration.
School principal Alan Hardie said he was delighted to have Lola back at the school and said she was an inspiration to pupils.
He said: “We always have a guest speaker and we have always wanted one of our ex-pupils to do it. We were thrilled when Lola agreed to do it this year.
“She is fantastic and a real role model. She wasn’t always in the top sets for everything but always worked incredibly hard and was a kind and thoughtful pupil.”
Two top-performing pupils during the evening were Katie Oliver, who achieved seven A* and five A grades, and Flora Edmiston, who achieved 12 A*s.
Lola, who made it through to live performances on the show, said she was thrilled to be back at the school she left in 2010.
She said: “I was asked to do it a couple of weeks ago and was thrilled to come back to the school. It’s been amazing and such a nice feeling to be asked.”
The rising star, who still lives at home in East Boldon, with her parents says she travels to London regularly as she works on her career.
She described the past year has being “crazy” and said the X Factor had been a platform for her career as she works on her music in recording studios and contemplates a career in musical theatre.
She said: “I have been switching on the Christmas lights in Morpeth, the MetroCentre and Washington in the past few weeks.”
“I learned so much off the X Factor and have worked with so many different people.”