THOUSANDS of children and young performers are breathing a sigh of relief this weekend after a major stage show was saved at the 11th hour.
For days a cloud of uncertainty had surrounded Rock Challenge events nationwide – including next week’s six-day spectacle at Portsmouth’s Guildhall – after the bonanza’s key funding partner wound up.
Charity Be Your Best Foundation had presented the UK events and was vital in drumming up sponsorship to pay for the shows.
However, it went into administration casting doubt on whether this year’s Rock Challenge would be canned.
It would have been a crushing blow for thousands of children across Hampshire who had been tirelessly rehearsing for their big moment on the stage next week.
Behind the scenes bosses from the show’s production team, Global Rock Challenge, fought furiously to keep the display alive.
With just days to go, ticket sales for the city’s show were still suspended leaving parents in limbo and concerned over whether the spectacle would go ahead.
But today Global Rock Challenge kicked all the worries aside, finally confirming the Portsmouth’s Rock Challenge was going ahead – much to the joy of schools in the area.
Jazz Coles, Year 5 teacher and Rock Challenge leader at Court Lane Junior School, in Hilary Avenue, Cosham, said 99 children had been rehearsing since October.
She said: ‘It would have been gutting for everybody if it had been cancelled because everyone had put so much hard work in.
‘For them to have then been told at the last minute they couldn’t perform would have been devastating for children.
‘So we’re incredibly relieved it’s going ahead.’
A total of 33 primary and secondary schools from Hampshire will be hitting the stage during the Rock Challenge and the J Rock event – the junior version of the event.
The first wave of eight schools will perform from Monday, with heats taking place throughout the week until the final day of the bonanza on Saturday.
Councillor Steve Pitts, Portsmouth’s culture and leisure chief, was thrilled to hear the show had been saved.
He said: ‘We were aware there were difficulties in delivering the Rock Challenge this year.
‘This was nothing to do with the council but it was a concern.
‘The main thing is that all the kids, that put in so much hard work, will still be able to perform in Portsmouth as scheduled.’
Rock Challenge events have been held in the UK since 1996 after being introduced by the former Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary, the late Sir John Hoddinott.
This year some 20,000 children are expected to take place across 55 shows in England and Scotland.
A spokeswoman for Global Rock Challenge said: ‘We are committed to ensuring the schools, students, and teachers who have put in months of hard work and dedication are given the chance to shine and we are endeavouring to get all shows up and running so students currently rehearsing can get on stage.
‘We are working closely with venues, sponsors and schools to ensure the events continue to go ahead smoothly as planned.’
An official at Rock Challenge also said that claims the Southampton show had been postponed were not accurate, adding the display was still scheduled to go ahead in March.