TOYS came to life in a show performed by children competing in a school dance and drama contest.

Pupils from Merton Junior School, in Romsey Close, Popley, Basingstoke, came third out of 11 schools from Hampshire and Southampton when they performed their eight-minute piece at the Portsmouth Guildhall for this year’s Rock Challenge.

The team of 52 were also recognised for their press coverage, involving the community, and their drama skills.

Pupils auditioned for the show last year, and have been rehearsing since September. They chose the theme of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Angie Bridle, a learning support assistant who organised the show, said: “We decided we wanted our toys to come alive so the children decided which toys they liked.

“The children helped to build the concept. It was important for them to take ownership of something they are going to perform.”

The group spent the day at The Guildhall taking part in workshops and rehearsing before they performed their piece to an audience, including parents, in the evening.

The pupils dedicated the act to a student’s grandmother, Lindy, who used to make costumes for the school, but recently passed away.

Mrs Bridle said: “I’m pleased we won the community award because we have had a group of volunteer helpers who made costumes and helped with the set.

“Sadly, our costume maker passed away so we had to pull the community in to help. We exceeded all expectations. The community award was the best award we could have won because that was a thank-you to everyone who helped.”

She added: “The children loved it. We have seen increased confidence and they have built new friendships. That’s what Rock Challenge is all about.”