Stars pay tribute to their mentor
The firmament descended on Thornhill school on July 9th to say goodbye to a star maker, when internationally famous musicians and actors mingled with former and current pupils to pay homage to their musical muse, Mrs Bennett.
A surprise concert was arranged by members of staff, and was compared by former pupil Emma Maw, who currently works as a red carpet celebrity interviewer. Mrs Bennett was shocked and delighted when she entered the main hall at school to discover an amazing array of talent, all gathered to say goodbye.
The previous day had seen a visit from Gary Watson, former pupil and west end star, who was unable to make the main event. Gary sung one song for Mrs Bennett, and provided a wonderful reminder of the talent developed by Mrs Bennett throughout her time at Thornhill School.
Ben Forster, (Jesus Christ Superstar) made a surprise appearance after the 300 strong audience had just viewed his video message paying tribute to his former Music teacher. Former pupils that performed on the stage included Ashleigh Lowes, Jamie Douglass, Christopher Camm, Charlotte Dunn, Craig Stephenson, Cameron Nevison, Beth Walden, Melissa Cavanagh, Kayley Ede(Bond), Harmonyze (reforming after 10 years for this one off gig).
There were also video messages from former pupils Dominic Ridley, Michael Pickering, Gary Watson, Daniel Mackinley , Amanda Hunt, Stephanie McGuigan, Danielle Chaytor, Amy Donald, Joe Wilson and Beruce Khan.
This was a truly one-off event that celebrated the work of a lady who was so much more than a teacher for many talented pupils, she provided the inspiration to develop careers in entertainment. Touching so many lives, the return of so many former pupils highlighted just how important Mrs Bennett has been to countless pupils from Thornhill.
Finally, a letter from Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber was presented to Mrs Bennett.
I was very interested to read of your work at Thornhill School in Sunderland and the fact Ben Forster and so many other West End performers were former pupils.
I believe it is very important that music is taught and young talent is nurtured with in our educational system, but the system needs teachers like you!
I congratulate you on all you have achieved at Thornhill School and I wish you the very best for your retirement next month.
Everyone past and present associated with Thornhill School wishes Mrs Bennett the very best for the future, and we're thankful that through her passion and hard work, we have been entertained by those stars she has helped develop.
Many thanks to all staff who attended the concert on Wednesday night. A grand total of £292 was raised from ticket sales and this money will be given to Cancer Research UK.