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SOAPSTAR Superstar Leon Lopez will headline a fund-raising spectacular at Peterborough's Embankment on Sunday, September 16.

SOAPSTAR Superstar Leon Lopez will headline a fund-raising spectacular at Peterborough's Embankment on Sunday, September 16.The former Brookside hearthrob spoke to The Guide about his performance – which will see him sing tracks from a new album at a mammoth charity event to raise money for research into a rare disease that a city boy suffers from.

Connor Wright has rare Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, which leaves him dangerously vulnerable to infections, and his family have organised a huge It's a Knockout style event from noon at the Embankment, which will be followed by a mini music festival.

Leon will headline the stage at the very beginning of what looks set to be a promising pop career.

After singing in bands since the age of 17, Leon had almost given up on the possibility of music stardom.

"I was in a band called AM and we did the Radio1 Roadshow and were nearly signed by London Records, but then our manager passed away and we decided to leave it there," he said.

Spells in other bands followed and talks with record companies continued, but nothing came to fruition.

"I thought 'I've tried and tried', but then Soapstar Superstar came up and off the back of that I thought I'd give it another go."

Leon's new album, due for release later this year and recorded in part in Dogsthorpe's AMS Music Studio, features songs from Gary Barlow and David Sneddon alongside Leon's own self-penned material.

"I write mainly about what comes into my head at the time," he said.

"I suppose a lot of them are about heartache – there's also a duet on there with a fantastic singer called Susy Thomas and it's about a relationship coming to an end."

Leon's profile from Soapstar Superstar, Brookside and a part in Hollyoaks: In the City will almost certainly help Leon on his path towards the top 40, but he is under no illusions about the difficulty of succeeding in an already crowded marketplace.

"At the end of the day, it's all about getting the radio stations to support your singles," he said.

The recent announcement that Leon is to take a principal role in a West End revival of Rent next month, will do him no harm, either. He plays Collins, a sacked university lecturer who falls in love with a drag queen and later contracts AIDS.

"I'm really looking forward to it," he said.

"It sounds really depressing, but it's actually full of humour." He will perform alongside former Sugababe Siobhan Donaghey, who he said is "amazing", as well as Denise Van Outen.

Leon has come a long way from his work in Brookside, and still keeps in touch with cast regulars such as Jennifer Ellison. Was it liberating to be able to leave the heavy workload behind?

"It wasn't, because my last year was quite sparse," he said.

"When I was first in the show, I was in it a lot, but in the last year I was able to take some time off, which was good for me because I was able to get a lot of writing done.It was so relaxed at Brookside, and it was more of a family, really."

It's a Knockout will be at The Embankment from noon on Sunday, when Peterborough covers band Hooker take to the stage.

Following seven games of It's a Knockout, The Pulse, Irene's Secrets and Retrolux will perform from 5pm, before Leon Lopez takes to the stage.

The event is free, but there will be opportunities to donate towards research into Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome.

The event will also feature a fun fair, craft stalls, children's games, food stalls and a beer tent.