HUNDREDS of children from primary schools all over Swindon performed at a music festival on Thursday evening.

The 450 schoolchildren sang in front of more than 1,000 people for their performance at the North Wiltshire Music Festival at the Oasis Leisure Centre.

Helen Fudge, a teacher at St Mary’s Primary School in Purton, co-ordinated the event.

The aim of the evening was to encourage more young children to learn a musical instrument.

She said: “I’m extremely pleased with how the event went and the children really enjoyed themselves.

“The hall was packed with parents and friends of the children who were performing.”

A total of 11 primary schools got involved in the festival.

This year’s festival was themed around songs and sounds from Oscar ceremonies which were performed by pupils accompanied by the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Swing Band and the Great Western Youth Band and Percussion Ensemble.

The evening included a wide range of songs from classics including Breakfast At Tiffany’s and 9 to 5 to modern favourites from Disney and James Bond films.

The children practised the songs during their Spring term so they were ready to wow audiences on the night.

The Youth Band also played classic movie themes from The Magnificent Seven and Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Festival director Debbie Matthews said: “I was so impressed by the children’s commitment and dedication to learning the songs.

“I’d expected to have to cut some songs but they rose to the challenge and sang their hearts out, even whilst being positively distracted by the fantastic light show we had organised.”

The choir included pupils from Broad Town, St Mary’s, St Sampson’s, Noremarsh, Lydiard Millicent, Ridgeway Farm, Wootton Bassett County Infants, Broad Hinton, Longleaze, Ashton Keynes and St Bartholomew’s primary schools.

They rehearsed for two hours on Thursday afternoon before the concert began at 7pm.

The festival was organised in association with Swindon Music Co-operative and WiltshireMusicConnect and supported using public funding from Arts Council England.

Mrs Fudge added: “This kind of event wouldn’t be possible without the support of all the headteachers and the fantastic work that staff and volunteers in the schools do.

“Being part of such a memorable event makes all the effort worthwhile.

“The children were a real credit to their schools and families and we look forward to this event reaching its 10th year.

“Hopefully it will grow to encompass a choir of over 500 children.”

Each year, the festival awards a free term’s instrumental tuition to one lucky pupil and last year’s winner Jessica sang The Ladybird during the performance.

Chairman of the Swindon Music Co-operative Jacki Pattendon said: “I was pleased to hear Jessica sing. Her example shows how much progress can be made in just a year.

“We are proud to lead instrumental learning in schools and support the development of young musicians such as these.”

The Swindon Music Co-operative is a not-for-profit association of self-employed music teachers which provide a range of instrumental and vocal tuition.

The organisation works with more than 70 local schools and offers out-of-school teaching for young people and adults.