HOMEGROWN pop idol Sam Nixon returned to South Yorkshire – to rally support for Comic Relief.
Sam, and his comedy duo partner Mark Rhodes, were in his hometown of Barnsley visiting his former infant and junior school, Burton Road Primary.
The children’s TV presenters told students about their recent visit to Tanzania and showed them videos of Comic Relief funded projects being run out there.
“We think it’s important the kids know what great work Comic Relief is doing in places like Tanzania,” said Sam, who was born and raised in Monk Bretton.
“Burton Road are long time supporters of Comic Relief, raising hundreds of pounds in recent years, and we wanted them to see the difference their money makes.”
Pupils from the school gave the pair a sneak peek of what they have planned for Comic Relief 2011 with a Glee-style performance, which included their own version of Dirty Dancing’s famous ‘Time of my Life’ dance routine and a rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’.
Quoting the iconic Patrick Swayze film, Sam laughed: “They were fantastic – nobody puts Burton Road in the corner!”
Sam and Mark are currently holding auditions up and down the country for their new show, ‘Comic Relief Does Glee Club’, which will be screened on the BBC in the week running up to Comic Relief.
“The show ends in a live final,” explained Mark. “I swear the performances we saw here today could give some of the competitors we’ve auditioned a real run for their money!”
Headteacher Matthew Harris told The Star both the kids and the staff had been beside themselves with excitement at meeting the duo.
“It’s wonderful having them here today, and most of the kids have seen their television shows,” he said. “Sam’s mum works here as a lunchtime supervisor and she is so proud. She loves to say that he entered a talent competition and never came home, but we know she’s delighted – as we all are – with everything Sam’s achieved.”
It was eight years ago – at the height of his Pop Idol fame – that Sam last visited Burton Road Primary.
“It’s funny to think that many of the kids here today weren’t even born when we were on Pop Idol,” he said. “But we got such a great reception and it’s been wonderful to see familiar faces.”
Pat Corker has been a teacher at Burton Road since 1970 and says she remembers Sam well.
“He was a child that stood out,” she said. “Boys are usually rather reluctant to sing but Sam wasn’t and he fetched all the rest of the boys along with him.
“He had something special, even then, and from what I’ve seen today he’s still a grounded Barnsley lad who remembers where he comes from.”
Red Nose Day is on Friday March 18. Log on to www.rednoseday.com for fundraising ideas.