Children have been left “absolutely gutted” by the cancellation of an annual dance contest which had become one of the highlights of their year.
Pupils from across the Highlands and north-east have traditionally spent months each year perfecting dazzling routines for the Rock Challenge event.
A team from Peterhead Academy came third in the UK-wide dance spectacular this summer, after finishing fourth the year prior and second in 2017.
It also regularly attracted entrants from schools across the north, with one Highland councillor saying its demise would come as a blow to scores of “dedicated” pupils, teachers and parents.
Peterhead South and Cruden councillor, Alan Fakley, last night said it was a “real shame” the children would be denied the chance to secure the first place prize they have been working towards achieving for years.
He said: “Peterhead Academy has such a fantastic history at the Rock Challenge and I’m very disappointed to hear that it’s been cancelled next year.
“This sort of event is a great opportunity for those taking part. This means pupils are being denied the opportunity to not only be creative, but to enjoy themselves as well.”
Fraserburgh Academy pupils taking part had planned a performance based on the Mad Hatter character from Alice in Wonderland, showing how he has difficulty distinguishing reality from his hallucinations.
The school’s Rock Challenge group posted online that it was “absolutely gutted” to hear the event had been called off.
The group added: “We were so excited for this year, it’s just a shame we won’t see the end result.”
An Invergordon group said: “Our team was incredibly excited to get started on this year’s performance and we are gutted that this will no longer be going ahead.”
Competition organisers were unavailable for comment yesterday and the reason behind the cancellation remains unclear.
However, in February questions were raised over the future of the contest when a venue in Southampton confirmed ticket sales had been suspended for an English event.
Highland councillor, Alister Mackinnon, said the demise of Rock Challenge was a huge blow to the pupils, teachers and parents who were involved in the event.
The Dingwall and Seaforth councillor said: “I have seen the benefit the pupils received from being involved in the Rock Challenge events.
“They were very successful and, in the Highlands, will be a great miss, particularly for the schools who have taken part including Alness, Invergordon, Thurso, Dingwall and Grantown.
“It gave the youngsters involved huge encouragement to motivate themselves and gave them a great foundation to be more committed in events in their communities.
“There was huge dedication from all involved.”
Around 100,000 young people from across the UK and Ireland were expected to perform at the event next year.
It was to take place on Monday, February 11, where there would have been six shows in Portsmouth.