Emma Aspray reports on the music tour trip.

As my alarm rang at 3:30 in the morning, I was less than enthused at the idea of a bus journey to Paris. I must confess however, once all my last-minute packing was complete and we were making our journey to school, my parents had to endure two very excited and tired teenagers, a combination I’m sure they enjoyed! Once the coach was loaded with approximately 150 chocolate bars, packets of crisps and all our instruments we set off on our journey. We were exactly 3 minutes in, when the sixth form boys decided to give a rousing rendition of Jubilate that I’m sure Mr Prescott would be proud of and as uplifting as that was, 5:50 in the morning was perhaps not the best time to engage an audience. Once in Paris, we settled into our first hostel and spent what was left of that evening playing a variety of card games before getting an early night to allow for another early start the following morning in Disneyland.

On Sunday morning, it was extremely clear who was probably the most excited about performing and spending the day in Disney as one particular girl showed up in a Mickey Mouse jumper wearing Minnie ears, spoiler alert….this was me.  Arriving at Disney we were taken to the backstage area and set up for our performance. After our sound check, I had already cried with happiness and can honestly say this was one of the best experiences of my life. The reception that we received from the audience after our performance was just amazing. After we had packed all of our equipment up, and many thanks to the WSPA for providing us with such brilliant kit, we were let loose around the Disney park. We all managed to enjoy some rides, meet characters and had a brilliant time.

Monday was another day of travelling as we headed to Belgium. On arrival we once again checked into our hostel and then headed out to explore Ghent and have a boat tour to see all the sights. I must say they were stunning and I fell instantly in love with this city and its cultures. We had planned to go bowling on Monday evening, however a certain pupil who will remain nameless.. okay it was Danny, got us lost so we never found the Bowling alley but nevertheless we went back to the Hostel and enjoyed a quiz, which was an equally lovely way to end the evening.

Our main concert in De Panne was on Tuesday so we all got back on the coach to travel there and on the way stopped off at a chocolate museum in Bruges, I’m sure the highlight for many were the free samples! Once we had all bought enough chocolate to last a lifetime, we continued on our journey. Our concert at OV Kerk De Pannes was a great success and we were fortunate enough to receive a standing ovation from our audience and were also asked to perform an encore. Mrs Robinson also managed to present the entire concert in Flemish, another extremely impresive achivement.

On Wednesday we travelled to Ypres to sing at the Menin Gate and on the way stopped at the Tyne Cot cemetery. It was an extremely powerful and poignant experience for all of us. We had the opotunity to explore Ypres during the day, including exploring the Flanders Fields museum and buying yet more chcolate! It was then time to sing at the Menin Gate; as we approached the Menin Gate itself, I was simply blown away, not only by the vast amount of people there but also just how many names were covering the walls. 54,000 of them. Singing during the moment that the wreaths were laid was the most humbling experience I have ever had and one that I will definitely not forget and I feel so fortunate to have been able to have this experience.

I’d like to thank Mrs Robinson, Mr Williams, Miss Brydon and everyone else who helped make this trip possible. I can’t imagine the amount of planning and the hours involved but it was extremely clear from all on the tour that it had been thoroughly worthwhile as we all had the most amazing time.