Dinnington: £4,000 raised for comp after hundreds flock to performance by former pupil and award-winning songwriter Eliot Kennedy

Eliot Kennedy. Photo by Glenn Ashley
Eliot Kennedy. Photo by Glenn Ashley

Over 500 people flocked to Dinnington Comprehensive school to see former pupil turned international star Eliot Kennedy perform an exclusive gig.

Students from the grammy award-winning song writer’s musical academy joined him on stage in the school’s great hall on Saturday 12th April.

The sell-out performance raised a total of £4,000, which will go towards a new sound system for the school.

Paul Blackwell, school principal, said the gig was a great success and that he was ‘delighted’ by the turnout.

Said Mr Blackwell: “Eliot was on top form, and the audience was treated to not only some of his greatest hits and up and coming stars from his academy, but also to four tracks from a new musical that he is writing.”

“There were even special messages from Gary Barlow and Donny Osmond.”

“We have a lot of excellent singers and musicians in the school and the one thing that always lets them down is our sound system is absolutely rubbish.”

“We run everything through an amplifier that was probably here long before Eliot came.”

“The money we are going to raise tonight will go towards a proper sound PA system.”

“That means the young people who regularly perform here actually get an opportunity to do so without feedback, without the microphones breaking down and so that we actually hear the fantastic talent that they have”.

“The performance was a world exclusive for Dinnington comprehensive school, and I cannot wait for next year’s gig.”

Eliot Kennedy said: “The night was an absolute cracker.”

“It’s always odd going back to school and it was surreal but great to see my old headmaster, Gordon Forster, was sat on the front row.”

Eliot spoke of how ex-headteacher Mr Forster had asked to listen to his music at school and inspired him to follow a career in music.

Speaking to Mr Forster at the concert during a moving tribute, Eliot said: “You said something to me that has been one of the guiding principles in my life.”

“You asked what I was waiting for, that I was lucky to know what I wanted to do and that I should just go for it.”

“And in the darkest times of my life, I thought about what you said.”

Eliot added:“Mr Forster was the man who told me to follow my dreams, so it was very emotional.”

“I have great memories of Dinnington comp, mostly because I used to spend my lunch hour playing on the piano in the great hall.”

“Song writing was all I ever really wanted to do.”

“It’s great to be able to say to these kids- I’m just like you. I was raised here, I went to school here. I achieved my goals and so can you.”

During the show, Eliot explained how he wanted a change from developing pop acts such as S club 7, Five and Blue.

He went on to open up the Eliot Kennedy Steelworks Academy to provide an opportunity for budding artists to develop at their own pace and receive advice on breaking into the music industry.

He is currently working on the West End musical, ‘Finding Neverland’, with best friend Gary Barlow.