16 July 2012
Young Londoners showcase talent at XLP event
A leading politician was wowed by the talent showcased at an event put on by youth charity XLP last week.
Speaking at XLP's 14th annual Arts Showcase final at the Mermaid Theatre in London, Simon Hughes MP said: "I have seen some incredible talent here tonight, and I know that this isn¹t the end for any of you, it's just the beginning."
XLP is an urban youth charity working with more than 60 schools and communities in inner-London.
During the event on Saturday, 16 acts, representing more than 800 young people from more than 30 local schools, came together to celebrate each other's achievements.
This year's showcase prize was presented by Simon Hughes and Patrick Regan OBE, CEO and founder of the charity, to Sebastian Tuma, an illusionist from Blackheath Bluecoats school who amazed, teased and baffled the audience with consummate expertise.
Upon receiving his award, Seb said: "I still can't believe I won the XLP London Finals; everyone was so good!"
The audience were moved to tears as they shared in the grief of one young performer who recently lost a close friend to knife crime. For having the courage to speak out about this tragic event, he was presented with the David Idowu Youth Voice Award by Grace Idowu who lost her son David after he was stabbed in 2008.
Later in the show there were gasps of surprise and cries of laughter as act after act captured the crowd's imagination. Emily Dessi-Maken, a singer-songwriter from Kingsdale School in Lewisham, won second place with one of her own compositions, and Skittles, a dance crew from Bishop Challoner School in Tower Hamlets, were third.
Speaking after the grand final, Patrick said: "The Arts Showcase programme is all about bringing hope to young people across London and giving them a platform from which to articulate some of the challenges they are facing while demonstrating their incredible talents.
"This year was no exception. The atmosphere in the theatre was superb: young people encouraging each other, no matter where they live or go to school; teachers, parents and friends supporting every act with outrageous enthusiasm; and respect and appreciation shown by all and for all."