Goodbye and thank you Rock Challenge

Today we heard the news that the UK Rock Challenge would no longer go ahead and I was dumbfounded. How could I possibly put into words everything all these feelings? The problem is that there’s just so much to say. It may sound cliché but I really have seen Rock Challenge change people’s lives. I’ve seen pupils who didn’t believe in themselves develop into confident, sociable performers and people, I’ve seen groups of students in their hundreds coming together, working their butts off towards a shared goal and then seen their pride and love as that all comes together on stage with the magic of adrenalin and an audience. I’ve made literal lifelong friends, people who go above and beyond to make a difference and bring an opportunity to young people all over the country. Their passion and dedication has truly been inspiring.

The thing is, I’ve been blessed to be a part of this bubble for an entire decade. I got to perform, choreograph, lead, video direct, help to make costumes and paint set, and on top of that I’ve been able to volunteer, host and judge at several of these magical events up and down the country, I was an extremely proud Ambassador for it all and I am so so grateful for the experience. But after those 10 years I probably got as much out of it personally as I possibly could have. The thing that makes me really sad about Rock Challenge coming to an end is the amount of children who will now miss out on that opportunity to step outside the classroom, work together with their friends and teammates on something absolutely mad, to see their teachers in a different light and to bring their community together behing one goal. I know how much I, and countless others, got out of it so the real shame is that not being able to continue. Bringing that love and passion to others is the whole reason I continued to be involved after I left school.

I think the opportunity was especially important to me and my hometown because up north we hardly ever get the chance to be part of something like that. To truly get outside of school and do something special. The community spirit that has been built in Peterhead around the Rock Challenge team is frickin’ unbelieveable and that kind of connection is unique to RC, I’ve never seen anything like it in another after school club. There are countless people who would tell you that Rock Challenge is the only reason that they loved being at school, that it changed them for the better and that it opened their eyes to a whole world of possibilities and friendships outside their normal circles. It truly was the highlight of my time at Peterhead Academy.

I cannot explain how proud I am to be a part of the PARC family and to have create such an iconic legacy in the last 19 years (10 of which I got to be around for). The team is unreal – year after year rallying round to make gorgeous and creative performances (with the best costume and set around). Not just has Rocky C taken over my life, but my entire family’s! It’s probably been about 10 years since our garage wasn’t full of set and our living room wasn’t filled with costume works-in-progress. After leaving school and going along to support the students on event days I was so proud of the kids and their attitudes towards it all. I saw friendly, hilarious, hard-working young people all coming together to make the PARC family/machine proud. It was amazing to see their ideas and skills develop as the years went on.

To the crew (past and present): you guys are incredible. I am so glad to have known you, to work with, but mostly to call you guys my friends. Your relentless passion and energy has been so so appreciated and I really wish it didn’t have to end like this. But we gotta keep meeting up in some random town for more Premier Inn banter-filled nights.

I’m absolutely gutted to see Rock Challenge coming to an end, but mostly I’m sad for the kids who don’t get the chance to be a part of the best thing I ever did in school.

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