Rocket Man is a blast for pupils

When Ouston called the Rocket Man they thought it was going to be a long, long time before they got a response.

When Ouston called the Rocket Man they thought it was going to be a long, long time before they got a response.

Year five class at St Benet's RC Primary School in Ouston, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, made an ambitious bid to get Sir Elton John to open their summer fete on Sunday, June 11.

The flamboyant rock legend, they reasoned, was in town playing a concert at The Riverside cricket ground the night before, so he may as well pop in and do the honours.

But to their amazement, they got a reply from Sir Elton.

And despite sorry being the hardest word, he apologised, saying he could not attend the fete, but sent them 60 free tickets for the show instead.

Joan Clemo, deputy head at the village school and Year five form teacher, said: "When we received the reply from Sir Elton's management company we were absolutely amazed. It was a fantastic gesture.

"They sent 25 tickets for each class member, 25 for a parent or guardian, and 10 extra for friends or staff. We are all so excited. The children are as high as kites today, although that also has something to do with them breaking up for a week's holiday!"

The class of 10-year-olds, some of whom are now practising another of Sir Elton's hits, Crocodile Rock, on guitar in music lessons, wrote to the millionaire superstar as part of a persuasive writing exercise.

Mrs Clemo said: "We didn't really expect a reply but we thought it would be a useful exercise for the children to write inviting him to the fete, or to donate a prize, to demonstrate to them how to capture the reader's attention.

"Every one of the class sent off a letter. Most of them enjoy Sir Elton's music, mainly from The Lion King."

Many of the children urged Sir Elton not to go breaking Mrs Clemo's heart, and Brett Houston, 10, wrote: "If you are still standing after your concert we would like you to Rocket (man) to our fete."

The idea to write to Sir Elton came partly from the Friends of St Benet's, a parent/teacher association which has raised £30,000 for the school so far.

Friends secretary Joanne Anderson, 35, a fundraising consultant whose daughter Beth, 10, is also in Year five, said the tickets for the concert were on sale for between £40 and £100.

She said: "The ones we were sent do not have a price on, but they must be worth at least £3,000 which is incredible.

"Our summer fetes have been very popular, attracting around 2,000 visitors each year.

"If any businesses or individuals would like to donate prizes for a raffle they can contact me on (0797) 952-6727 and I will be delighted to hear from them."


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
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