CHILDREN attending a Wokingham theatre school had a sweet treat on Saturday as an EastEnders star paid them a visit.
Actor Emma Barton, who is about to return to the BBC One soap as Honey Mitchell, has signed up to be a patron of Steppin Out Stars of Tomorrow theatre school.
She joins Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers and Game of Thrones actor Matthew Stirling as patrons of the group, which meets in Wokingham and Woodley.
Ms Barton joined pupils at Emmbrook School on Saturday for a special Hallowe’en themed fancy dress session.
She answered questions and watched pupils as they took part in lessons including preparations for their forthcoming Christmas show.
Steppin Out’s principal Shelley Fitzgibbon said that the visit went really well.
She said: “It’s been really exciting for the children and a great opportunity for them to learn about the industry, about TV acting and about how Emma started her career.
“It’s been a really, really good day.
“Her enthusiasm is infectious and that’s been really nice for the children today.”
Ms Barton is the school’s first female patron, something that is important to Ms Fitzgibbon.
She said: “Ninety per cent of the children that attend classes are female and I thought it was important to have a female patron as well and it’s lovely that she’s agreed to do that for us.”
And there is a personal reason why the pair have teamed up: they have known each other since meeting at the Guildford School of Acting.
“We met at drama school and have been friends for many, many, many years,” she explained.
Ms Barton is also delighted at the opportunity to support the 300-strong school, which also meets at Waingels College in Woodley.
“I really truly believe it’s so important to encourage children,” she said. “I never thought I’d make a career out of what I thought was my hobby and today, to be able to support such a wonderful school like this and encourage the kids is a really rewarding thing I think. It’s wonderful –seeing them grow and learn and hopefully they’ll be the stars of tomorrow.”
Ms Barton enjoyed watching the children during their sessions, which include singing, music, dancing and acting – so much so that she wanted to have a go herself.
She joked: “They’ll have to restrain me as I want to get up there and sing and dance with them!”
Ms Barton starred in EastEnders for several years, making a cameo last year in which it was revealed that her character was moving to Canada, however she is due to return next month.
She said: “It’s going to be crazy! It’s going to be a lovely surprise for viewers. It’ll be great fun and I’ve already been filming.”
To celebrate Ms Barton becoming a patron for Steppin Out, the school is offering a free taster session to both its schools.
The first takes place on Saturday, November 7, at Emmbrook School in Wokingham and the second is on Friday, December 4, at Waingels School in Woodley.
Places are limited and should be booked in advance.
For more details, call Shelley Fitzgibbon on 07970 034488 or 0118 977 4258 or visit its website.