MORE than 3,000 talented children have joined together to sing their hearts out in a music festival at the Cliffs Pavilion.

Pupils from 65 schools from across Southend, Rochford, Rayleigh, Benfleet, Thundersley and Canvey are taking part in the South East Essex Schools’ Junior Music Festival at the Westcliff theatre.

The concerts, now in their 80th year, have been raising money for Little Havens Hospice, the RNLI, Childline, Essex Air Ambulance and children’s cancer charity Clic Sargent.

Festival secretary Andrew Palmer, who has organised the week for a tenth time, said the festival was a great way to get schools to interact and raise money for charity.

Mr Palmer, headteacher of Heycroft Primary School, in Benvenue Avenue, Eastwood, said: “The festival is a fantastic community event which brings schools together to celebrate the joy of making music.

“Being able to support and publicise local causes is an important element of the festival.”

Each night, up to 13 primary schools sing on the stage accompanied by an orchestra, which is also made up of pupils.

Each performance is directed by Jo Brown and Andy Withams.

The theme to this year’s festival is the association’s greatest hits, which looks back at songs performed over the 80 years of the event.

Songs being performed at this year’s festival range from rock classics, such as Rockin’ All Over the World by Status Quo, disco hit Dancing Queen by Abba, and Take That’s modern pop classic Shine.

Mr Palmer said: “The children really enjoy singing the songs and they get really involved at each performance.

“The audience seems to really love the shows as well. Each night gets sold out and produces a great atmosphere.”

Last year, the festival raised more than £5,000 for the chosen charities.