Our winners Dream Ticket trip to London!

In November 2018, the pupils at Teesside High School thought of an amazing idea for our Dream Ticket competition, and they were eager to start working on it right away! With the support of their teacher Mrs Casey (who is a huge fan of Wicked, having already seen it five times), the pupils worked together to write, choreograph and film a short video.

They performed a beautiful rendition of the Wicked song ‘One Short Day’, cleverly changing the lyrics to describe London instead of the ‘Emerald City’. We were all wowed by their efforts, which clearly illustrated their talent, as well as how much they were hoping to visit ‘The Capital City’.

After receiving hundreds of entries, WST finally announced that Teesside High School had won the competition, which was announced to students in assembly one frosty morning last December.

Mrs Casey: “We had already decided that if we won the competition, all the thirteen students performing in the video would automatically be given a place on the trip. As for the other thirty places, we asked pupils to write a letter to the teachers, explaining why they deserved to go. We received so many entries, all completely different from each other, so it was really hard for us to whittle them down!

Following an early 6am start on 27 February 2019, the group boarded their coach in Teesside and embarked on their exciting journey to London!

 

Day one

Despite the lengthy coach journey, the group were in high spirits. The students were singing their favourite songs together, which ranged from Neil Diamond to S Club 7! By the time we arrived in London at 1.35pm, everyone was getting even more excited about what lay ahead for the next few days. 

Lydia: “I’m already really looking forward to sliding down The Orbit because I’m a bit of a daredevil!

We had some time before our first activity, so everyone was happy to explore the shops on Oxford Street.

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Soon it was time to walk to Dance Works for the ‘Song and Dance’ workshop, which was an exciting visit for many of the students who study Drama and Theatre in school.

Mr Russell: “A lot of the students that applied for the trip study Drama and Theatre, so they were really excited to come to such an iconic dance school in the centre of London!

The session began with an interactive warm-up, where the students had fun experimenting with methods of expression, from being angry or upset to happy and excited, they were all eager to get involved and enjoyed performing in front of their classmates. Their instructor was an enthusiastic and animated character, who captured their interest throughout the entire workshop from start to finish.

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Rehearsing scenes from Wicked also gave students the chance to express their personalities through their performances, and made them even more excited to see the show later that evening!

At the end of the workshop, they finished with a Q&A session with Amy Ross, the former Elphaba in Wicked. Students had an opportunity to ask her lots of insightful questions about the realities of working in musical theatre, inspiring many to discover more about career opportunities across industry.

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Following the successful workshop, we made a quick visit to Covent Garden where the students had a chance to wander around the famous market and shops. It was a beautiful afternoon, so it wasn’t surprising that many returned with a gelato in hand!

We then continued on to Bubba Gump for our meal, which was well-earned for the students who had already walked over 14,000 steps that day!

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The food was delicious and a convenient central location to recharge after a jam-packed day of exploring the city. Once the ice-cream sundae desserts had disappeared and the Forrest Gump trivia answered, we were soon ready to head back to the coach for Wicked! 

Many of the students had visited London before, but had never attended a showing of Wicked. So as we passed different theatres on our way to the Apollo Victoria, it became clear how excited they were to be in the West End of London. Many excitedly pointed out the windows at shows advertised on the billboards, including Les Miserables and Hamilton, singing and enthralled to be on their way to their own performance that evening.

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Many of the students eagerly anticipated the show, pointing out the incredible stage set-up and the giant metal dragon hanging high above our heads. However as immediately as the show started, everybody’s focus turned to the performance itself.

Following a tremendous standing ovation and thousands of thundering cheers and claps, the students turned to each other excitedly to share their favourite moments of the show.

I loved when they performed defying gravity! I had shivers down my spine and it just sounded amazing!

The ending was really clever and I was surprised by all the little twists in the story – it really kept you hooked on the characters story all the way through

Another of the students exclaimed: “I have never seen Wicked before and I absolutely loved it! I honestly cried most of the way through, it was just amazing!

After a very long day, we made our way back to The Royal National Hotel, where everyone enjoyed a restful night’s sleep, ahead of another fun-packed day in London.

 

Day two

Awake early and refreshed on Thursday morning, the group tucked into their hearty English Breakfasts at The Royal National, setting them up for another busy day. Located in a convenient and central location, the hotel was perfect for the students to enjoy a well-earned break from the excitement of the city.

Ready on the coach for 9.00am, the students were eager to embark on their next adventure around London, starting at Buckingham Palace. The Great British weather couldn’t even dampen their spirits, despite the grey and drizzly backdrop throughout the walking tour!

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The groups Blue Badge tour guides, Pepe and Maitland, took us on an informative tour of London’s key sites, involving lots of student participation.

After a quick pit-stop for hot chocolate following a chilly walk around the city streets, the students continued on the tour, eager to ask more questions and test their history knowledge. We visited many significant sites, including Buckingham Palace, Queens Anne’s Gate, Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Downing Street and Trafalgar Square.

Our tour guide observed that our group was almost all girls, and so decided to give more detailed accounts of women in London’s history, including the suffragists movement in Parliament Square and at Women of World War II monument. They enjoyed hearing about these powerful women in British history, as well the chance to discuss modern politics and Brexit whilst standing outside The Houses of Parliament.

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Concluding our walking tour at Trafalgar Square, everyone boarded the coach, nibbled their packed lunches and continued onto the ArcelorMittal Orbit at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As the last visit on the itinerary, many of the students had been eagerly anticipating the Orbit throughout the entire trip. While we waited in the foyer, there was an opportunity to read the surrounding walls, loaded with facts about the Orbit. Many were amazed that the slide was the longest and tallest in the world at 176m long, while others exclaimed that they couldn’t wait to get to the top and see the amazing views from above.

Zooming up through the centre of the Orbit in the elevator fitted with windows, the students were getting even more excited as we climbed higher and higher. With the tutorial completed and everyone booted up with protective helmets and arm pads, we were ready to slide!

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All the students conquered the slide in their own way. Many screamed and shouted with excitement, and others looked for the support and encouragement of their classmates before they took the plunge. Some even decided to sing their favourite songs on the way down, with “Defying gravity” at the top of the list!

The students were in high spirits and as everyone gradually made it the bottom, they congratulated their classmates with a long line of high fives. Everyone had an amazing experience, and despite a jam-packed couple of days, the students were still full of energy on the coach ride home!

We would like to extend a very special thanks to all our valued suppliers who helped make this amazing trip possible. A huge thank you to Wicked UK and Wicked Educational Materials, Imperial Hotels and The Royal National Hotel, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, and the ArcelorMittal Orbit for all your generosity and support. We would also like to thank our fantastic coach drivers, Oli and Dave at M&D Travel LTD, as well as the teachers at Teesside High School for all they cooperation and support.

Lastly, we would like to thank the pupils at Teesside High School for being such a brilliant group, who embraced every second of this incredible winners trip to London!

If you are interesting in organising your own school trip to London, you can find more information here.