William Gilbert, a partially blind lurcher rescued from a life of neglect, landed a leading role in Hipperholme Grammar School’s production of Annie.

The performance, which took place this week, saw William take centre stage as Annie’s dog Sandy, to perform alongside his proud owner Mrs Karen Ballantine and pupils from Hipperholme’s junior and senior schools.

William, known as Billy at home, was initially rescued by Tia Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue after he had been starved, tied up in a yard and beaten, causing him to go blind in one eye. When he was found, Billy weighed just 10kg and was close to death.

Since being rehomed with music teacher Mrs Ballantine and her husband, he has flourished, weighing in at a healthy 25kg. He recently completed his 1st off-road marathon and is currently training for the Kennel Club Good Citizen Bronze Award.

The audience was captivated by the engaging performances of all the cast and the wonderful renditions of catchy tunes. This was the first time the Senior School and Junior school pupils have worked together to put on a show which was a resounding success. Niamh Sibley, from year 8, played the leading role of Annie.

Mrs Ballantine said: “Seeing Billy perform in the show really brought home how far he has come since his rescue.

“Casting him was a great way to educate our pupils about the importance of kindness and care, and I am so proud of all of them for continued affection towards him.”

For more information on the performance please visit www.hgsf.org.uk