An Edinburgh College Performing Arts student has been awarded one of five new bursaries offered by multi award-winning actor Sir Ian McKellen, in partnership with Scottish Drama Teaching Network (SDTN).
Thirty-nine-year-old HND Dance student Caroline Baird was awarded the bursary after Sir Ian decided to waive all the proceeds generated by his performances at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival so the money could be used to support local drama provision instead.
The actor, who is famous for his roles in Lord of the Rings, X-Men, The Hobbit and the Da Vinci Code, decided to donate the money so it could be used to fund five new bursaries, and help boost drama and arts opportunities at Leith Academy, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival’s three-year residency partnership with the school and City of Edinburgh Council.
Caroline and her four fellow winners were also invited to Sir Ian’s final performance at the festival, where he spoke about moments from his life and career.
Caroline said: “Being awarded the Sir Ian McKellen Bursary will help ease the financial pressure that comes with being a full-time student and a parent at the same time. I was quite concerned about whether I would be able to manage all my household expenses and still be able to apply myself fully to the course so I’m incredibly grateful for the support.
“In addition to the financial benefit, the very fact that I won this highly competitive award is extremely satisfying on a personal level, as it has allowed me to progress in my studies with increased confidence and self-belief.
“I have danced freestyle and socially my whole life, but only began learning dance technique at 36 which is late by normal standards. I decided to give it a try three years ago, and quickly fell head over heels in love. Shortly after, I completed a course in Inclusive Dance Practice at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland which inspired me to come to Edinburgh College last year to complete the NC Dance course, and I’m really looking forward to continuing my studies this year.
“Every day is an absolute joy studying at PASS. There is no question that full-time professional dance training is hard work and requires a huge amount of commitment and dedication, but it’s also great fun, and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to dance every day with a really lovely bunch of people.”