ROCK legend Brian May is giving his backing to the fund set up in honour of tragic schoolgirl Emma Newton – thanks to a letter from her friends.
The Queen guitarist was so touched by budding stage star Emma’s sad story that he immediately made a “substantial” contribution to the fund set up by her grieving parents Robbie and Peggy.
He is also promoting Emma’s Fund on his personal website, www.brianmay.com
Queen fan Emma, 18, of Lowgate, Hexham, died when her car was crushed near Corbridge by a falling tree in gales in May.
The budding stage star’s last performance, two weeks before her death, was as Britney in the Hexham Queen Elizabeth High School production of We Will Rock You, the West End musical based on the songs of Queen.
In 2010, 11 of the school cast had attended the London show at the Dominion Theatre, a trip which inspired the 2011 production.
Emma’s schoolfriend Kristen Clawson decided to pool the thoughts of the school cast and send them to May in London – without asking for money or any other favour.
But the rock idol said: “I was so sorry to hear about Emma’s death. She really sounded like a great girl. The idea of an arts fund is a great idea and I’d like to help.
“I just looked at the news story, what a beautiful girl; I wish I had seen her perform.”
May has also pledged continuing support for the fund, which is aimed at helping young performers make their way in the arts world. He added: “Creating a permanent fund to support young people in the performing arts is great. Working to fulfil a talent in singing, acting and dance can be tough.
“I’m delighted to help get the fund established, and look forward to seeing it grow.”
Emma’s father Robbie said: “I’m touched that Brian May wants to help us to remember Emma by supporting the fund. Emma loved to perform and brought joy to many people. It’s comforting to know we can now help other young people to do the same.”
Alexandra Horrocks, of the Community Foundation, which is administering Emma’s Fund, said the exact amount of Brian May’s donation could not be revealed but described it as “substantial”.
The fund itself now stands at over £23,000 and Alexandra said: “The school pupils weren’t asking for anything from Brian – they just wanted to express their feelings.”
Amy Warren, 17, of Humshaugh, who acted alongside Emma in We Will Rock You in early May, said: “She was such a bubbly character and such a presence, even when she wasn’t on stage.
“We are all Queen fans and we just wanted to spread our thoughts when we wrote to Brian May. It seemed an appropriate thing to do. It was quite a surprise to get a response like this – we certainly didn’t ask or expect him to donate money or put it on his website, but it’s a fantastic gesture.”
Fellow sixth form pupil Courtney McRae-Parker, 17, of Hexham, added: “Emma was so vivacious – when she was in a room, you knew she was there. She was such a beautiful person – but she didn’t know how amazing she was. She was absolutely hilarious, and an amazing performer.”
Teacher Sarah Morgan, subject leader for performing arts at Queen Elizabeth High School, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic that Brian May has responded like this, absolutely amazing.
“Emma was exceptionally talented in drama, music and dance. She was such a positive, highly-motivated member of the group. Working on shows was where she really came into her own.”