Leighton’s own budding Lesley Garrett – Lissie Allsopp – is settling in well at London’s prestigious Associated Studios Performing Arts Academy, after a slightly rocky start.
The former Vandyke student joked: “It’s been a bit like navigating white water rapids while strapped to a pair of skis.” And she admitted: “I was very homesick at first. I’m from a quiet friendly village and London was loud and unforgiving. But I’m beginning to get the hang of things and become more independent.”
She said starting the course provided a safe haven: “I quickly realised that, as well as being incredibly talented and hardworking, all my colleagues were genuine, kind and supportive. I soon felt at home.”
She added: “We were thrown straight into work, having masterclasses with mezzo soprano Sally Burgess and conductor Alice Farnham.
“We’ve been taught body strength and stamina are important and have regular yoga sessions. We’re also learning flamenco to improve rhythm and dance ability, as well as having classes in ballet, mime, French, Italian and German – Italian is still my favourite.”
Lissie is on the course thanks to loyal Leighton citizens who rallied round when she was about to turn down the offer of a place because she couldn’t afford the fees.
They all felt they owed a debt of gratitude to her parents, Sally and David, who’ve helped countless local youngsters through their voluntary venture, Leighton Buzzard Children’s Theatre.
Former nurse Victoria Langston spoke for many when she said: “It’s wonderful to be able to support Lissie and the Allsopp family because they have given so much to others over the years.”
And Lissie is quick to acknowledge their backing, saying: “I wouldn’t be here without the amazing love and support shown by home town and family friends.
“It has enabled me to grow every day, not only as a performer, but as a human being.”