A GROUP of students showcased their musical talents to an audience, after spending time writing songs of their own creation.

Pupils from Portfield School, a specialist school in Christchurch run by Dorset charity Autism Wessex teamed up with students from The Orpheus Music Centre to stage This Is Who I Am at Canford School's Layard Theatre during World Autism Awareness Centre.

The Orpheus Music Centre is an independent specialist school in Surrey founded by Sir Richard Stilgoe that specialises in performing arts for young people with learning or physical disabilities. It offers an outreach programme which involves students from the centre spending an intensive week with others to provide them with musical mentoring.

The outreach programme with Portfield School involved 11 students from Dorset with autism spending three days with students from the centre, writing. performing and playing musical instruments.

Siún Cranny, Autism Wessex chief executive, said: “The children and staff supporters did a wonderful job, their commitment was second to none. They really focussed on the task of performance with long rehearsals and intense song writing for the couple of days I spent with them. Everyone in the Layard Theatre was deeply moved by the meaningful words and music which were so honestly shared with us by our performance group.”

The Portfield School students wrote songs from their own personal perspectives; songs included Portfield Alphabet, Our View and New Way to Live. The students were able to build their confidence and develop their skills of self expression, while the programme also enabled them to grow on a personal and social level as they learnt to be creative through team work.

Founded in 1968, Autism Wessex is the regional charity providing specialist support to anyone affected by autism across Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset. Visit autismwessex.org.uk for more information.