NORTH-East singing star Joe McElderry is backing Sunderland students as they begin a month-long programme of entertainment.
Joe – who rose to fame when he won ITV’s The X Factor in 2009 and has since carved out a successful solo music career – returned to the Customs House in South Shields, last night to help officially launch Sunfest, the annual creative arts partnership.
For the last two years, students from the University of Sunderland’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media have entered into a unique partnership with the Customs House, during the month of May to stage their own exciting programme of theatre, dance and visual arts.
Now in its third year, the success of Sunfest has been extended to include performances at Arts Centre Washington.
Joe said: “I think Sunfest is a brilliant idea.
“I always love seeing young people perform and being nurtured and helped along the way.
“I am really excited to see their work on stage.”
Joe joins a prominent list of actors and entertainers including Melanie Hill, Wendy Craig, Jade Thirlwall and Sunderland band Frankie and the Heartstrings, to throw their support behind the student-led event.
Graeme Thompson, Dean of Arts, Design and Media at the University of Sunderland, said: “We are delighted that Joe is supporting this year’s Sunfest.
“He is a natural talent and has done so much to raise aspirations among young performers.”