A young man who dreams of starring in West End musicals is another step closer to his goal after he was awarded £1,500 from the Neil Hudgell Trust.
James Leeman, 21, was inspired when he watched a production of Oliver at Hull New Theatre, aged just five.
Since then, he has taken to the stage at the Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), Northern Theatre, Hessle Theatre Company, the National Youth Music Theatre and the One Off Productions group.
Now, he has secured a place to complete a master’s degree (MA) at the Royal Academy of Music in London and starts his year-long course on September 7.
James, from Swanland, has raised £20,000 to cover the cost of the year, which includes £14,200 for his course, and much of the money has been raised through sponsorship, as well as James’s own savings.
Included in the overall amount raised is a £1,500 discretionary grant from the Neil Hudgell Trust, which James said will make a huge difference.
The former South Hunsley School pupil said: “Ever since I was very young, I have always wanted to be in musical theatre and everyone I know has always pushed me and supported me.
“I found out I had my place in April, so I have sent out hundreds of letters to apply for sponsorship and support, and it’s amazing to receive £1,500 from the Neil Hudgell Trust.
“It makes you feel a bit emotional. It was quite moving to hear I had been successful and I’m so grateful.
“My dream is to perform in musicals in the West End and across the globe.”
James’s course will include in-depth technique and performance training in singing, acting and dance.
As well as classes, it includes numerous public performances of musicals and concerts, which will allow exposure to industry professionals and provide vital on stage experience.
He has already moved to London to find work ahead of his start date, securing jobs in front of house at the London Palladium and also handing out flyers for another company in the West End.
James said: “I remember seeing Oliver in Hull with my family when I was five and that’s all I have ever wanted to do.
“I’d love to be in shows like Les Misérables or Miss Saigon, going on international tours and seeing parts of the world, doing what I love.”
A total of £100,000 is available from the Neil Hudgell Trust over a 12-month period and groups can apply for grants of up to £5,000.
Jo Hudgell, chair of the trust, said: “James’s dedication and drive is clear to see.
“He has worked really hard raising the money to be able to take up his place and we hope it goes really well for him.
“We’ll keep an eye out for him on the West End stage in the future and wish him every success in his chosen musical career.”