March 2020: Theatre company gives Haslingden High School students career boost

STUDENTS are getting a helping hand into future careers at a flourishing theatre company based in their own high school.

Aaron Doherty, 27, and Jack Tubb, 25, are co-owners and directors of two franchises: Footlights Rossendale and Burnley.

They hire Haslingden High School and Sixth Form on a Saturday to run a series of acting, dancing and singing classes and also rehearse for shows.

Aaron said: “Seven years ago my brother and sister went to Footlights Rochdale and I got asked to meet and greet people. Within 12 weeks the school had grown tremendously.”

He was then offered his own franchise and admits he got the bug as he saw how it helped his brother, who has asperger’s.

Aaron said: “In April 2018 I took on the Rossendale franchise and since then it has grown to 240 students weekly at the school, Haslingden Community Link and at The Boo in Waterfoot and we employ 22 people on a part-time basis.”

Grace Thompson, 17, who is studying at Blackburn College, now returns to her old school as a student teacher.

While 14-year-olds Alfie Fletcher and Macey Carr, along with 13-year-old Meisha Gamble, are all studying at Haslingden High School and are also student teachers working with the Tiny Stage School aged three to five,

Aaron said: “They learn how to do lesson plans, mentor groups of young people, deliver parts of lessons as well as learning first aid, safeguarding and cash handling.

“Most of the staff in Footlights are full-time qualified teachers working in creative and arts departments.

“I enjoy sitting back and seeing the teachers passing on their talents to others.”

Alfie said: “I have been a student teacher since the summer and I help the teacher keep control of the class. I think helping the teachers will also help me to improve my abilities and skills.”

GCSE Performing Arts student Meisha has been dancing since she was seven and joined Footlights when they opened at Haslingden.

“It really builds my confidence and that makes me a better performer,” she said.

Macey has previously been a supporting actor in ‘So Awkward’ and has been dancing and acting since she was 10.

She likened being part of Footlights to being in ‘a big family’ and said everyone helped and supported each other.

Grace studied drama GCSE at Haslingden High School and outside of school also completed her performing arts GCSE.

She said: “I am gaining a lot of confidence by taking groups and helping them and I am able to help with problem solving. Hopefully I want to go on to do music, or teaching and performing arts.”

Pupils range in age from three to 76 and for more information email