A Sunderland teenager who feared she may not be able to afford to chase her dreams has been awarded a prestigious scholarship.
Sophie Golden, 18, from Red House, has been awarded more than £24,000 to attend one of the top performing arts colleges in the country.
She was awarded the Lee Proud scholarship - named after leading choreographer Lee Proud from Newcastle - after wowing a panel.
It means that once she’s completed her final year of a musical theatre foundation degree at Newcastle College, she’ll move to London to begin a course at D&B Academy of Performing Arts.
Sophie, who is the first person to be awarded the scholarship, said: “It’s been my dream to be a performer since I was three years old. I just couldn’t imagine doing anything else, so to be offered such a highly sought-after place at D&B was just my dream come true.
“My mum and dad don’t earn that much and it was putting the idea of continuing to train in drama in question. It’s been a big worry for me because I wanted it so much I didn’t know what I was going to do if I couldn’t afford it.”
She added: “Meeting Lee was amazing, we really connected in the interview. Amongst the Newcastle College students, Lee is seen very much as a role model and inspiration so it’s a real honour for him to choose me for this scholarship.”
Lee Proud, who’s worked on a number of West End musicals as well as those around the world, said: “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured that D&B have chosen me to represent this brand new scholarship in my name and, even more so, because of my history and affinity with the North East of England.
“I am just delighted they have offered this wonderful opportunity to such a talented young lady. Sophie has an exceptional talent and I believe the outstanding quality of training, along with the nurturing and supportive environment at D&B, will further provide the skills and training she needs to compete successfully at the very top level of the profession. I wish her the best of luck.”