THE search is on to find young singers from across the region to perform during the highlight of a North-East town's musical calendar.

The Young Singer Competition 2005, run by Music for Darlington and supported by The Northern Echo, is launched today, and hopes to find an aspiring star to sing at Darlington's Last Night of the Proms. They will be accompanied by the Waterloo Band at the concert, to be held at the Dolphin Centre on Saturday, May 14.

One runner-up will get to sing the evening before, at the Promenade for Youth event.

The winner will get a £50 prize, with £30 and £20 prizes for the two runners-up.

Entrants must be aged between 12 and 18, and should already be competent performers of classical or light music.

Along with the completed application form, below, each entrant must submit a cassette tape or mini-disc recording - clearly marked with their name and address - of up to three minutes long.

The closing date is noon on Thursday, March 3.

Six entrants will be invited to a live audition in front of a panel of judges on Thursday, March 17, where they must perform Home Sweet Home and another song of their choice.

All six short-listed entrants will receive a framed certificate. the winner will sing at Last Night of the Proms, which is now in its ninth year, and supports three charities - St Teresa's Hospice, Darlington Mind and the Corps of Army Music Trust.

Last year's competition was won by Helen Kelly, 18, from Gosforth, north of Newcastle.

Jane Bradshaw, director of St Teresa's Hospice, said: "Through this competition, we are helping to discover and develop talented local young singers."