An EastEnders star has praised a band made up of children with autism and dyslexia as “brilliant”.
Jake Wood, who plays Max Branning in the BBC soap, took to social media after watching seven learners from LVS Hassocks take part in Autism’s Got Talent, at London’s Mermaid Theatre.
Playing under the name Hassocks Allstars Blues Band, the band, from the school in Sayers Common, was one of only 17 acts from across the country chosen to take part in the event on Saturday May 9.
Faced with an audience of more than 600 people, William Parris, Joe Goatley, Lucy King, Ellis Gallon, Cameron Ellis, Callum McCree and Rhys Brown pulled out all the stops for their rendition of House of the Rising Sun by the Animals.
William, who played a saxophone solo during the performance, said: “I want to thank Joe, Lucy, Ellis, Cameron, Callum and Rhys for an amazing night – I will remember it forever, we all did a fantastic job.”
Lucy added: “I can’t believe it has come to an end – it has been such a good day and we smashed it out there!”
Following the performance, the children posed for photos with well-wishers including Robin Windsor, who had performed on Strictly Come Dancing, and Jake Wood – who asked them to play the EastEnders theme tune at the event next year.
Kira Brabenec, head of centre at LVS Hassocks, said: “It was a fabulous evening and I felt honoured to see our learners, and all the other acts, perform. Our band was professional, calm and polished and were a real credit to themselves and the school.
“Our teachers Paul Selkirk and David Troubridge did a fantastic job getting the learners ready and deserve a lot of thanks for helping them reach that level of performance.”
Mr Selkirk has overseen the growth of music at the school, which has gone from three students learning one song to a thriving range of six bands who practice every Friday.
I can’t believe it has come to an end – it has been such a good day and we smashed it out there!Lucy King, Hassocks Allstars Blues Band
He said of the band: “They are a testament to what autistic children can do when given the chance to shine, which is something we always encourage at LVS Hassocks across all disciplines.”