AN ‘ordinary’ musician hit all the right notes as he presented returning students with awards to recognise their outstanding academic effort and achievements.

Stockton-based performer Mike McGrother, front man with Teesside meets Ireland fiddle punk band The Wildcats of Kilkenny, was guest of honour at Haughton Academy’s Year 12 awards.

The annual ceremony saw returning GCSE pupils rewarded for their effort and attainment in a host of subject areas.

Special honours were also presented to students for their positive behaviour and attitude, as well as trophies for resilience, determination, attendance, leadership, conduct, academic achievement and Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Addressing pupils, parents, carers, teachers and governors Mr McGrother, who went from pursuing a career in the priesthood to performing on stages in Beijing, New York and across Europe, said: “I am an ordinary man. I was ordinary at school and I am an ordinary musician.

“You may think you too are ordinary but together you have already achieved extraordinary things – you have worked hard to achieve your exam success so continue on that journey.”

High achievers of the evening included pupils Adam Biernet, 17, who received awards for attainment in computer science and science and Annalise Page, 17, who was presented with trophies for attainment in history and geography.

Adam, who came to Haughton Academy from Poland, age 11, speaking very little English, achieved six grade 9s, two distinction stars and one distinction at GCSE.

“It was difficult in my first year as I found the language quite hard but I received so much help from the teachers,” he said.

“I was hoping to receive an award tonight so I am really pleased to be taking two home with me.”

Annalise, who achieved six grade 9s, two grade 8s, one distinction star and one distinction at GCSE, added: “It is lovely to come back into the academy and to know that the school really cares about us even after we leave.”

Pupil Hana Dodsworth was presented with The Alan Sunter Act of Kindness award for her work as an anti-bullying ambassador and governor Dr Leslie Fox awarded the school’s highest honour, the Conduct Award, to pupil Alana Milne for using her voice to help other pupils in school.

Summing up principal Jonathan Lumb, who hosted the evening alongside assistant head teachers Fiona Campbell and Steve Flynn, added: “This is one of the best nights of the year and it is wonderful to see so many familiar faces.

“Our Year 12 pupils may have moved on to pastures new but they are still a part of the Haughton family.

“We hope that their time here at Haughton Academy has set them up to get a top job and have a great life and that they continue to share their successes with us on their journey.”