The Word gets out

Amer Sheikh with the backing singers.'The Word performing at Gala Theatre, Durham.
Amer Sheikh with the backing singers.'The Word performing at Gala Theatre, Durham.
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AN award-winning rap troupe has been spreading the word about antisocial behaviour to hundreds of students.

Rapping chemistry teacher Amer Sheikh and his crew entertained 1,500 teenagers from across the country when they rocked the stage at Durham’s Gala theatre.

The pioneering Thornhill School group, The Word, led three inspirational performances, using hip hop, dance and rock music to send out their hard-hitting message.

As well as tackling antisocial behaviour and environmental crime, the group also dealt with the Horden shootings, the riots that swept across the country and the Stephen Lawrence case.

Amer said: “The response was amazing. It’s difficult trying to hold the attention of 500 kids at a time for more than two hours so I was so proud and emotional at the end of the performances.

“It was an amazing two days and everyone really enjoyed themselves.”

As well as Amer and singers, Year 9 pupils Emily Mason and Tamsyn Trenholm and Year 10 student Holly Kilner, The Word was joined on stage by a live band and visuals screening hard-hitting images.

Band Paris Gun, made up of three Thornhill School pupils, provided the warm-up, and dance group Cinema Sirens provided a dance act.

A host of sporting personalities from the Newcastle Falcon, Durham County Cricket Club and Durham Wildcats also took to the stage to talk about antisocial behaviour, littering and graffiti.

Amer added: “This is proof that if you have an idea, like I did seven years ago with The Word, and you focus on it and have the determination, you really can do it.

“We’re constantly raising the bar with The Word and we have so many more exciting things coming up.”

Amer’s family – wife Kelly, son Jamal, nine, daughter Leila, six, and the latest addition, nine-week-old Amina – were also on hand to help out and watch the performance from the crowd.

A DVD and documentary are also being produced of the Gala shows, with segments set to be screened on MTV later this year.

The Word also has planned trips to Essex, Suffolk and Stanley and a performance at Hill View School in March will be recorded by Sky TV.

The shows were organised by the Durham County Council’s Civic Pride Team in conjunction with the Safe Durham Partnership.

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