More than 400 children from St Albans and Harpenden were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform alongside stars of the stage and screen to a packed West End theatre as part of a fundraising show.

The children, aged between nine and 16, attend Hertfordshire’s longest-running part-time stage school Top Hat.

They took to the stage in front of a capacity audience of 2,000 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in the West End for a three-hour-long charity show to raise money for the Royal Marsden Hospital and Noah’s Ark children’s hospice.

The show raised £5,000 for the two charities, and saw stars from TV and West End shows perform alongside the children.

Actor Gemma Oaten, who played Rachel Breckle in Emmerdale, made her West End stage debut singing Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid.  

She said: "I was absolutely terrified before my performance.

"But this is my childhood dream come true.

"I just went for it. Watching the young children performing on such a big West End stage before I sang stopped me being so scared. The kids were amazing, and they were all so fearless. They just went on stage and gave it their all. Their commitment was incredible."

The show, which took place on Sunday July 20, took over a year to plan. Warren Bacci, principal of Top Hat Stage School, said: "I am tremendously proud of my pupils from St Albans and Harpenden who took part in the show. It was an incredible experience, and the children were so professional, and showed no signs of the nerves you would expect to see from such young performers appearing on a West End stage in front of 2,000 people.

 "The children gave their best performances ever and were truly inspirational, and it was a very emotional night.

"We are so grateful to all of the children’s families who have supported us through this journey to put on this amazing show, and we are so thrilled to be able to present the Royal Marsden and Noah’s Ark with £10,000."