Headteacher Hilary Burkett (centre) with students and staff

A NEW festival demonstrated that Tonbridge is brimming with young talent last weekend.

The inaugural Hillfest drew hundreds of people to the Castle Grounds on Friday [July 21] despite the week’s dreary weather as the sun came out at just the right time to light up the stage.

Put on by arts specialist Hillview School for Girls, the show consisted of performances purely by the academy’s students, past and present.

From dancing troupes and choirs to poetry and fashion design, the youngsters showcased the school’s commitment to harnessing young girls’ creative abilities.

Speaking at the event, Headteacher Hilary Burkett said the festival made her feel ‘hugely proud’, adding: “The standard is really top end and I’m honestly not just saying that. We wanted to show that to the wider community.

Exceptional

“Sadly, the emphasis and inclusion of the arts in education is reducing as the focus on academic ability is increasing and many students will progress through their schooling without accessing the breadth of the arts education they deserve and being given the opportunity to develop an interest at which they could excel.

“I am passionate that this will not happen to students at Hillview and will strive to ensure that the exceptional standard you see here today will continue in the future.

“When we look at what they achieve it’s worth every penny.” A number of their past students have gone on to have careers in the performing arts, with three alumni currently performing in the West End.

The Head said they hadn’t yet decided if Hillfest would continue for a second year as ‘they weren’t expecting to make a profit’ for the ticketed event.