Helping Cornwall’s young and talented

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Amelia Nelson

An inspiring mix of dance, song and sports talent from across Cornwall has been recognised in the latest round of grants from Young & Talented Cornwall, the Lord Lieutenant’s Fund.

The grants, totalling over £16k for this round of awards, will be used to fund travel, accommodation, equipment and entry fees.

Young & Talented Cornwall, The Lord Lieutenant’s Fund, supports exceptionally talented young Cornish people undertaking a range of activities including sport, the arts, science and music. The fund seeks to provide grants to the county’s brightest prospects who otherwise lack the means to pursue their dreams fully.

Colonel Edward Bolitho OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, said: “The talent shown by our Cornish applicants was outstanding; they have already shown so much grit and determination to get to where they are today and it is all the more impressive in these especially challenging times.

“Our aim is to ensure that Cornwall’s future stars are given the opportunity to achieve their potential, regardless of financial means or background.  Congratulations to all our latest recipients; we are delighted to be supporting you and look forward to following your progress over the coming months and years.”

The latest recipients include:

  • Libby Herrick – an 18-year old singer from Helston, whose particular passion is musical theatre. Currently on a BTEC foundation course in musical theatre at the Jason Thomas Performing Arts school in Truro, her aim is to perform in West End shows.
  • Kira Lomas – a 19-year old ‘triple threat’ (singing, dancing and acting) musical theatre performer from St Ives. With an impressive list of roles and perfomances already under her belt, Lomas has just been awarded a place at the Millennium Performing Arts College in Greenwich.
  • Ballet dancer Aston Purnell from St Austell is the first Cornish boy to have gained one of only 12 places at the English National Ballet School. Now 16, he has studied ballet since the age of 8, initially with a ballet teacher in St Austell. He then won a place to train in association with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, travelling from Plymouth every Sunday from the age of 9. He auditioned for and won a place at the Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham at the age of 11 and once he has completed his three-year diploma at the English National Ballet his aim is to become a principal dancer.
  • 17-year old Abigail Birch from Madron, Penzance, is a talented para athlete in javelin, discus and shot, attaining UK rankings in 2019 for javelin (1), discus (2) and shot (2). A second time applicant to Young & Talented Cornwall (she was previously awarded in 2017 to support competing in Canada), Birch aims to be selected for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the 2024 Paralympics.
  • Ruby May is an outstanding young tennis player from St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. Aged 14, she has recently been awarded an ‘All Rounder’ (in addition to academic achievements she is also a marathon runner, swimmer, flautist, singers, actor and artist) scholarship to King’s College Taunton. For the last three years she has been playing successfully in Cornwall county tennis teams and has represented the Five Islands Academy, despite the cost of getting to the mainland.
  • Aged 18, William Freer is a badminton player from Saltash, with a particular forte in doubles (currently ranked No.1 in age group for mixed doubles and at No.4 for men’s doubles). He is a member of Badminton England and regularly competes on the national and international junior and senior circuit. He is currently taking year off before university to focus on his training; the Young & Talented Cornwall grant will be used to cover equipment costs.
  • Amelia Nelson, aged 15, is a Go-Kart driver from Halsetown near St Ives. She received a Y&TC award (recipients can apply up to three times) last year to cover driver tuition from a top-class coach. She went on to finish in the top ten of the British Open Championship and was awarded the Jem Hepworth Girl Racer Trophy in recognition of both her track performances and commitment to obtaining the sponsorship to enable her to compete at this level. Despite limited opportunities in 2020, she has been appointed an Ambassador by Motorsport Woman.
  • Rugby player Merryn Doidge from Liskeard is another second time applicant to Young & Talented Cornwall. Playing since the age of 6 (she is now 19), Merryn’s aim is to wear the England shirt whilst representing her country with a full cap as part of the world champion senior women’s team. Now playing for the renowned Exeter Chiefs women’s squad (full back and on the wing), the grant will be used to cover travel expenses.
  • Ellie Beynon is another female rugby player from St Austell. Aged 18, and now at Gloucester University, she has shown outstanding commitment to her sport, playing at both club (Penryn) and county level and with the Truro College Rugby Academy. A RFU youth rugby ambassador (the first to be appointed from Cornwall), her grant will be used to cover membership costs and kit.