PICTURE SPECIAL: Young Performers set to strut their stuff

TALENTED young people from the borough are getting the chance to show just what they can do tonight.

The Customs House, South Shields, will play host to this year’s Young Performer of the Year showcase event.

Young Performer of the Year logo

Young Performer of the Year logo

The prize, sponsored by Port of Tyne, is part of the Pride of South Tyneside Awards, which is organised by the Gazette in partnership with The Customs House and South Tyneside Council.

Each of the 11 youngsters nominated for the accolade this year will take to the stage tonight in order to help judges make the difficult decision of choosing a winner.

Previous winners of the award include Joe McElderry and Jade Thirlwall, both from South Shields, who took the title in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

They both went on to win The X Factor – Joe as a solo artist, and Jade as part of girlband Little Mix – so big things could be in store for this year’s winner.

HOPEFUL ... Hollie Ritson is in the running for Young Performer of the Year at the Pride of South Tyneside Awards.

HOPEFUL ... Hollie Ritson is in the running for Young Performer of the Year at the Pride of South Tyneside Awards.

l The first contestant is 17-year-old singer and guitarist Grace Anne Davison, of Prensgarth Way, South Shields.

The Harton Sixth Form pupil has been singing since she was 11.

l Also performing is teenager Anna Fail.

The 17-year-old, from Grasmere 
Gardens, South Shields, is a member of the South Tyneside Academy of Musical Performance (STAMP) and recently starred in the group’s production of 13 The Musical.

ON SONG ... young singer Lily Brooke Widdowson is hoping for a Pride award.

ON SONG ... young singer Lily Brooke Widdowson is hoping for a Pride award.

l Youngster Sasha France is also competing for the title.

The 10-year-old, of Randolph Street, Jarrow, has overcome medical battles and loves singing more than anything else.

l Five-piece band Eliza Smiles are also performing for their shot at the award.

The group is made up of guitarist Jack Errington, 16, from South Shields, keyboard player Cale Davies, 17, from Hebburn, singer Lauren Amour, 17, and bassist Charlie Winn-Davison, 16, both from Jarrow, and drummer George Rowan, 16, from Bedlington, Northumberland.

l Lily Brooke Widdowson, of Black Road, Hebburn, is also up for the award.

The 16-year-old sings, plays piano and guitar, and is studying songwriting at Gateshead’s Academy of Music and Sound.

l Aspiring actor Andrew Dawson will also perform tonight for his shot at the title.

The 18-year-old, of Mayfair Gardens, South Shields, is a member of the Westovian Theatre Society and has appeared in a number of leading roles.

l Singer Robyn Gerencser is also set to perform.

The 16-year-old, of Western Terrace, East Boldon, would love to turn her passion into a career.

l Kieron Winter is also up for the title of Young Performer of the Year.

The 17-year-old, of Farne Avenue, South Shields, recently auditioned for The X Factor and is waiting to hear if he’ll get the chance to sing for the TV show’s judges.

l Also performing for a chance at winning the award is Hope Billie Swan.

The 14-year-old, of Sunderland Road, South Shields, was crowned winner of the Gazette’s Xmas Factor competition last year and is hoping for another victory.

l Youngster Rebekah Grace Summerhill will also perform for the title.

The 12-year-old, of Readhead Road, South Shields, loves to perform and dreams of becoming a West End star.

l Hollie Ritson made it to the final of the contest last year and is hoping to go all the way this time around.

The 17-year-old, of Prudhoe Grove, Jarrow, sings and plays instruments including the flute and the piano.

Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, is hosting the event.

He said: “There’s always an anticipation about the young performers’ night because you never know what magical talent will be uncovered. It’s a real opportunity for our young people to shine and can be a great platform for their future.”

The contestant will also be watched by experts who will give their feedback after each performance.

The panel is made up of reigning Young Performers of the Year, The Waiters – which includes Adam Tait, Dan Johnson, Martin King and Rhys Chambers – actress Hazel Pude and actors Stephen Sullivan and Craig Richardson, who starred as the Ugly Sister in last year’s Customs House pantomime, Cinderella.

Tickets for the event, which kicks off at 7pm tonight, cost £7 with a £6 concession.

To book, go to www.customshouse.co.uk or call the box office on 454 1234.

l Don’t worry if you can’t make it along to the event, the Gazette will be there to catch all the action.

Follow @shieldsgazette or reporter @shieldsgazvicki on Twitter or use the #gazpride

If you are there, make sure to tweet us using the hashtag to let us know who you think should win.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki