Students and staff from Kings Langley School wept tears of joy after being selected as winners of the Rock Challenge final at the Milton Keynes Theatre on Sunday (July 22).

The school finished top of the pile despite it being their first year in the premier competition, which involved 378 schools and around 24,000 pupils.

The victory brings to an end 10 months of hard work, during which 118 pupils have worked on every aspect of the performance from make-up and costumes to performance and choreography.

Alice Norris, 16, and her brother Jack, 14, of Hazelbury Avenue, Abbots Langley, both starred in the show and were on stage when Mike Penning MP handed over the trophy.

She said: "It’s crazy, it still hasn’t completely sunk in, I can’t believe we won it because we went to Milton Keynes not expecting anything, to be in the top 10 was amazing.

"We started out on this in September and it has filled up our whole year but everybody has loved it, we were so emotional.

"I had my GCSEs this year and some people asked me how I was going to cope but this actually got me through. It became my place in the school where I could go and forget about my exams."

Everybody taking part had to audition for their places and pupils from year seven through to year 13 took part and after finishing second in the regional final in Portsmouth they went one better in Milton Keynes.

The performance was based on some of the key scenes from A MIdsomer Night’s Dream and is titled "Swift as a shadow, short as any dream".

Jack added: "It felt so good, I was on stage when we got presented with the prize.

"When the called out Kings Langley we just didn’t know what to do."

The spirit of the pupils has been hailed by Gemma Dolan, the school’s head of performing arts, who insisted they deserve full credit.

She said: "It feels amazing to be number one in the UK, it was probably the best day of my life.

"I am so proud of everybody, to say thank you just isn’t enough.

"It is even more remarkable that they can do this with the facilities at the school, we have no dance studio, no mirrors and recently we have had to clear exam desks out the way to practice then put them back again afterwards.

"The school has been brilliant in supporting us and have given us what they can but fundamentally it comes from the kids, they wanted to do Rock Challenge and they fundraised for it."

The Department for Transport's THINK! road safety campaign is one of the event’s main sponsors.

Mike Penning said he was stunned to discover he would be handing the trophy over to a school in his own constituency after attending the event in his capacity as Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Transport.

He said: "I was very emotional and of course the key was for them not to know they had won so I hid at the side of the stage then just walked on and announced it.

"It is great for the school and great for Kings Langley.

"There were really big schools there and they just nailed it, what was brilliant for me is they learned from what happened in the semi-finals and brought it up another level."

Kings Langley School also picked up the awards for drama skills and for the best overall spirit in the competition.