Sprinting Sunderland scholars take to the stage

box clever: John Hogkinson, who plays Chris Mullin in A Walk On Part oversees a recreation of the 2005 general election run for the Sunderland South vote counting.
box clever: John Hogkinson, who plays Chris Mullin in A Walk On Part oversees a recreation of the 2005 general election run for the Sunderland South vote counting.
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FAST-paced students have been learning more about politics.

Pupils from St Aidan’s School in Ashbrooke have entered the history books by helping Sunderland City Council to become the first constituency to declare its results for a record-breaking five consecutive parliamentary elections.

Sixth-form students from the school play a pivotal role in delivering the ballot papers with such speed that the city is now nationally recognised as the country’s fastest vote counter.

Now they’ve been gaining an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the corridors of power with a trip to see A Walk on Part.

The play, which runs until Saturday, is a stage adaptation of diaries of the former MP for Sunderland South, Chris Mullin.

Bill Crawford OBE, head of electoral services for Sunderland City Council, said: “Pupils from St Aidan’s Catholic School have been crucial in ensuring that a Sunderland constituency has been the first to declare their election results in the last two general elections.

“Whilst we have achieved this goal since 1992, during the 2005 and 2010 elections we managed to declare the first, second and third results in the UK which was a fantastic accomplishment. We are extremely proud of this achievement which would not have been possible without the commitment of the young people from Sunderland.”

During Chris Mullin’s final parliamentary election in 2005, the pupils from St Aidan’s helped him to become the first MP in the country to be elected, an achievement which is shared with audiences by actor John Hodgkinson as Chris.

Julie Haley, sixth form manager at St Aidan’s Catholic School, said: “Our school is delighted to have been involved in the count for each general election since 2005.

“As Chris Mullin was the former MP for Sunderland South, where our school was located before the 2010 boundary review, we were thrilled to be invited to bring our sixth-form politics students to see the play that chronicles life in politics from the viewpoint of a Sunderland politician.”

l A Walk On Part is at Live Theatre, in Newcastle, until Saturday. Tickets range from £10 to £18. To book tickets tel. 232 1232 or visit www.live.org.uk.

Twitter: @sunechokaty