A STUDENT from North Devon has won a place at Birmingham Conservatoire to study music.
Mercedes Cooling, 19, of Chittlehampton is about to start a BMus (Hons) at the prestigious establishment, having been playing the violin since the age of six.
It was while she was at West Buckland School that her interest in the instrument began.
She said: "I became interested in learning the violin when Sam Robinson a violin teacher at West Buckland Senior School came down and did a prep school assembly.
"She played some pieces and explained all about the violin and from then I wanted to play it."
Regarding her future at Birmingham Conservatoire, she said: "I wasn't sure about auditioning for music college at first. I didn't think I would ever get in or that I was near good enough as I hadn't even taken my Grade 8 violin which a lot of those auditioning would have done years before.
"But it just goes to show that they look for potential as much as hard evidence of your talent.
"I'm nervous about the change from small rural country life to a big city like Birmingham but very excited to be going.
"I'm looking forward to all the challenges that are to come and the amazing opportunities the conservatoire can give me. City life will be exciting, too. It seems so alive compared with Devon.
"In the future I would love to play in the pit of the Royal Opera House or for the Birmingham Royal Ballet Orchestra having grown up with ballet music and having danced from a very early age but you never know what life will throw at you in the future so I'm just going to enjoy my time at university and hope that I get into whatever career I would like at the end of it."
Mercedes studied music at both GCSE and A-level and has been a pupil of Keith Chivers for three years.
She has also been having lessons at Birmingham every other week for the past year.