The 17-year-old student from Emmanuel College, Gateshead, is hoping to progress the dance studies she started when she was just three into a professional career.

Places at the renowned Cambridge Performing Arts School are fiercely contested as one of the leading establishments in the country. Rachael, of Low Fell, will study musical theatre including singing, acting and dancing.

“All little girls want to be a ballerina and I started with the Reavley Theatre School when I was three,” she said.

“My 12-year-old sister Sophie is an associate of the Royal Ballet School and works with tutors from London at The Sage Gateshead every Saturday. But I prefer contemporary dance and would love to work in the West End or Broadway one day.”

She said staff at Emanuel College had been very supportive with her dance and she had tried to pass on her knowledge by being a dance leader and running classes.

She also performed to Michael Buble’s Feeling Good during a special assembly for Year 13 leavers.

Rachael Ward“It does feel like the end of an era but I plan to keep in touch with the college and the friends I have made here – after all we have been together for seven years,” said Rachael, who won the Northumberland modern dance championships and was runner up in the ballet competition last year.

She added: “It’s a very competitive world I am entering but the college has given me the skills and confidence to push myself forward and I can’t wait to go to Cambridge.”