A PERFORMING arts school in Darlington opened its doors today for the first time, after just months of planning during lockdown.

Jade Byrne, 34, and Fiona Scott, 33, today welcome the first pupils to their performing arts academy Platform Perform, at The Northern Echo Arena, which the pair only decided to open during lockdown.

Ms Byrne, who has been in the industry 12 years but focuses on writing and acting, postponed the tour of her show Pricks, due to coronavirus.

She said: "We've talked about starting our own performing arts school for a long time but it was never the right time for me.

"During lockdown we were having wine on Zoom and really started to pan it.

"We found the venue and fell in love with it. As soon as I saw it, I knew we had a home."

The new business owners launched with an event on Saturday, September 4, where mayor Chris McEwan, who had earlier taken part in a flash mob in the town centre, cut a ribbon to the academy.

The mum added: "It was quite stressful renovating a studio with my girls around, but they did help to paint.

"It's been emotional too. I lost my mum last year and would want her to see this achievement.

"This is the most exhausted I've been in my life but it's exciting too. I just love being on stage, the feeling of performing and making other people smile."

Platform Perform offers the likes of commercial, theatre and dance fitness to various age groups. Some classes, which run mainly after school, are already fully booked.