PRIMARY school pupils paid a touching tribute to families in war-torn Ukraine last night as an annual song contest began in Darlington.

A candle was lit in front of the stage at the Mayor’s Primary Schools Song Contest, at the Dolphin Centre, as thoughts turned to the families under siege from Russia.

The candle was lit by the Mayor of Darlington, Councillor Cyndi Hughes, and pupils from the reigning champions, St Bede’s.

It was followed by a minute’s silence as pupils, parents, teachers and civic dignitaries, including the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon, paid their respects.

Peter Barron, who compered the event, announced: “While we are so lucky to be with our children in a safe, loving and fun environment, our thoughts are with those families who are being separated and whose homes are under bombardment.”

This year’s event was sponsored by Redde Northgate and raised money for the Mayor’s charities, St Teresa’s Hospice and Darlington Mind. The judges were Elizabeth Woods, of Durham Music Service; Jane Bradshaw, chief executive of St Teresa’s Hospice, and singing duo Maria and James.

The winners were Reid Street Primary School, pictured below, with a rousing rendition of Elton John’s ‘I’m Still Standing’. Reid Street had been runners-up the last time the competition was held in 2020.

The Northern Echo:

St George’s Church of England Academy were runners-up with ‘You’ve Got a Friend In Me’ from Toy Story.

Hurworth Primary School came third, singing ‘Under The Sea’ from The Little Mermaid.

The Mayor said: "All the young singers did their families, their schools and themselves incredibly proud. We laughed, we cried, we paused to consider our good fortune at being able to spend this special time together in peace. Heartfelt thanks to all who helped make the evening such a great success.

"The winning performances were stunning but, in my view, all the children who took part are winners."