12 rising stars from Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 17:56 12 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:56 12 March 2017
We're impressed by this dynamic dozen and think you will be too.
Ballet dancer Daniel Dolan
Daniel Dolan has been referred to as the ‘real life Billy Elliot’. The professional dancer, now 24, has been pirouetting his way to the top of the ballet industry since the age 11. Daniel’s passion for dance began when he took his first dance lesson at the age of four and went on to win a Music and Dance Scheme scholarship to The Hammond School in Chester in 2004. Aged 16, Daniel graduated from the Hammond having won a place at the prestigious Russian Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
This was a huge accomplishment, not only for Daniel but for male ballet dancers across Britain, as he was only the third British male dancer to earn a place at the school in the last 233 years.
After graduating from The Bolshoi Academy with a diploma and special honours, Daniel joined the prestigious Corps of The Lithuania National Ballet, achieving a promotion to coryphée in his second season.
Daniel now continues to dance many solo and leading roles across the world and has worked alongside many esteemed choreographers. This month he will be embarking on a tour to China where he will be performing in Swan Lake in Beijing.
Fashion designer Isabelle Pennington-Edmead
Isabelle remembers that from a young age she has always loved drawing. ‘I was always drawing clothes. We recently found books where I had cut up bits of furniture to make swatches, or tore out pages from my mum’s Next catalogue!’
The 19-year-old from Stretton pursued her passion for fashion, and after studying art foundation at Warrington’s Priestley College, she has just started her first year of university at Nottingham Trent. Isabelle’s talent must have been immediately evident as after her first lecture, her teacher asked if she would be interested in applying for the Alexander McQueen Sarabande foundation scholarship.
‘I was so shocked to be asked and before I knew it I had an interview in London,’ said Isabelle, who has ambitions of owning her own label in the future. ‘When they told me I was successful, it didn’t sink in. I still don’t think I have accepted it.’
Only seven scholarships were awarded, and as well as it paying her tuition fees it means she is offered a studio in Sarabande’s London HQ after her degree. The young designer, who isn’t inspired by celebrity but rather the news and fine art, uses fashion as a medium to highlight the political and socio-economic issues she believes in. An example of this would be while at Priestley College, Isabelle tackled the on-going debate of tampon tax by making a dress from the sanitary items.
Artist Catherine Parsonage
Catherine Parsonage, from the Wirral, has achieved recognition and success within the world of art over the past seven years. Having recently secured the prestigious year-long Sainsbury Scholarship in Painting and Sculpture with the British School at Rome, her recognition within the industry began at Manchester Metropolitan University.
In her final year, she won a scholarship to study at the renowned Royal College of Art in 2011. In the same year, she was named as a rising star in the art world as she was selected for the prestigious Catlin Guide, an award that aims to catalogue Britain’s most intriguing new artists. However, it took Catherine, now 27, time to realise her own talent. ‘When I started my art education I was able to see very clearly the path that was right for me to follow, it took me a number of years to say I am an artist, but I always was.”
Her success continued as she won awards like the Cité Internationale des Arts Residency in Paris in 2012, the Basil Alkazzi Studio Award in 2013 and was selected for the student competition New Contemporaries in 2014. Catherine showcased her work in several exhibitions across different locations including Milan, Rotterdam and London.
Catherine is working towards an exhibition in Rome. ‘I think my plans are like those of many artists - both flexible and unpredictable. This is what provides the excitement and the risk of a career in the arts’, she says.
Scientist Sebastian Leaper
Not many 24-year-olds would say that they plan to dedicate their life to working on a sustainable world. But for Sebastian Leaper, a PhD student at Manchester University, it’s exactly what he has planned. And he has won an amazing prize to help him on his way.
‘I want to work on technology that improves human wellbeing. Resources are scarce and the world currently operates on a finite resource which is also destroying it – oil,’ said Sebastian, who is originally from Hertfordshire but has been a student in Manchester for over six years. He is now based in the university’s Graphene NOWNANO Centre for Doctoral Training. ‘My ultimate ambition is to find a stable solution to how we produce, store and distribute resources and energy without it being detrimental.’
Sebastian was recently named the recipient of the Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award 2016. The scientist is hoping that the prize money of £50,000 will fund a new graphene project that will help his research into overcoming the challenges associated to sustainable energy.
Graphene, a two-dimensional carbon material, is a game-changing UK discovery -- by Manchester University scientists - and its properties make it one of the most important breakthroughs in recent scientific history.
Musical actress Nicole Deon
If at the age of 22 you are already working on a project which lists Julian Fellowes as one of its creators, you know you have a bright future ahead. Nicole Deon, a former pupil of the acclaimed Chester performing arts school, The Hammond, will be starring in a musical version of The Wind in the Willows, created by a team including the Oscar-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator.
The starlet’s passion for performing showed at a young age, and she began studying at the school in year eight, continuing her training through to the upper school before graduating in the summer of 2014. Nicole praises The Hammond and all the teachers there for their support during her time at the school.
‘The diverse training techniques in dance, singing and acting that I learnt at The Hammond helped me to build as a performer and prepare myself to be ready for auditions. Since my graduation, I have been fortunate enough to work in the performing industry.
‘I have had the privilege to appear in a Travelodge commercial, work in pantomime at the Cambridge Arts theatre, and most recently, I enjoyed being a part of the production of Mack and Mabel which was a UK and Ireland tour, starring alongside iconic performers such as Michael Ball and Anna-Jane Casey.’
Designer Patrick McDowell
It’s hard to believe Patrick Dowell, a fashion designer from Greasby, on the Wirral, is only 21. He has already achieved so much. At just 13 at St Mary’s Catholic College– not long after fashioning a handbag out of a pair of jeans as a first project – he was named Young Textiles Designer of the Year. He was the youngest ever recipient.
‘It was the guidance of Ali McWatt, the then head of art at school and now head of arts at Liverpool College, that encouraged me to develop and pursue my interest. After showing her that first project she worked with me to build my skills. By the end of that year I had a dress in the college fashion show, won the textile award and sold bags I’d designed. Ali was an inspirational educator. Without her support and guidance I wouldn’t have gone on to achieve any of the things that have built my character and career path.’
Patrick’s textile portrait of Anna Wintour was displayed at The Mall Galleries and he was a finalist on the BBC’s Young Apprentice, where Lord Alan Sugar tipped him for the top. Now London-based, Patrick is currently studying Fashion Design Womenswear at Central Saint Martins and is on a placement as part of that course at Burberry, the British fashion house.
He said: ‘Attending Central Saint Martins and the internship at Burberry have been highlights for me. I am learning and developing as a designer, which has always been my main goal. I’d love to one day combine my own creativity with a strong sense of understanding what people want to wear and how it will make them feel. But for the foreseeable future I am happy designing with a team of a company.
I simply do not know enough about this industry to launch my own label just yet and I’m okay with that.’
When teachers told Daniel Griffiths he wasn’t really academic, his self-esteem took such a blow he believed he would never achieve big things. Fast forward a few years and the 20-year-old is proving those tutors wrong. Daniel, from Kingsley, near Frodsham, is putting together a project designed to solve the global refugee crises as part of The 2017 Hult Prize. This is an initiative backed by Bill Clinton to launch social businesses tackling world-wide issues.
Daniel aims to transform the lives of women refugees by offering sustainable training and employment through an ethical fashion upcycling business. If successful, Daniel will be awarded $1 million in start-up costs.
This month, Daniel will travel to London, with two fellow Staffordshire University students, to convince a panel of judges this project is the one for them. If they win they will travel to New York for the final where they will meet world business leaders and have dinner with Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Daniel said: ‘Our aim is to raise awareness of the often overlooked – but very vulnerable - female refugees in Colombia and South America, those who have escaped violence and unrest in their own country to be forced into prostitution by gangs in their new homeland. It’s something that could make a real impact and it’s something I have put together and done. I struggled at school, being told that academic matters weren’t for me. But this is something that I can be proud of.’
Footballer Ben Woodburn
There must be a good luck charm around young players from the city of Chester and from Liverpool FC.
The latest superstar to come out of the Roman city is 17-year-old Ben Woodburn, who in November surpassed fellow Cestrian and ex-LFC player, Michael Owen, in being named the club’s youngest goal scorer. At the age of just 17 years, one month and 14 days, Ben made a name for himself worldwide – only three days after making his first official senior debut.
Ben, who is from Tattenhall, initially joined Liverpool FC’s academy as an under-7 player. He studied at Bishop Heber High in Malpas before moving to LFC’s academy education centre at Rainhill High. Despite the striker joining the club on a long-term deal, he still calls Cheshire home, and LFC provide him with private transport to take him to training and the academy.
A maternal grandfather born in Wales means Ben has already played for their national team at an under-16, under-18 and under-19 international level. We’re sure this young superstar has dreams of making the first team in either the England or Wales squad at some point in the future.
Skier Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown clicked into his first pair of skis aged just two. But with a father, Simon, running a ski business in Italy it could be said he was always destined to hit the slopes. Ryan, who was born in Wrexham but grew up in Chirk Bank, not only got the bug but discovered he had a talent for it.
It was at the tender age of 11 that the slalom star moved to Courmayeur in Italy, leaving behind his parents, sisters and brother, to be near the slopes. ‘I was spending six months here and six months in Italy,’ said Ryan, who attended Ellesmere College and Moreton Hall. ‘But it got to the point where I couldn’t be away from school in the UK for so long. With my parents’ support I moved here to Italy. It was hard but it was definitely the right thing.’
Ryan, now 17, is making a big impression on the winter sports world. He has represented his country in the GB Children’s Ski Team as well as being placed in the top three places in prestigious competitions in Italy. It was the latter that recently earned him a place on the GB Youth Team for alpine skiing. As part of that team he took part in the European Youth Olympic Festival in Turkey – as we went to press he was due to compete.
‘My strong areas are slalom and giant slalom,’ explained Ryan, who lives in the shadow of Mont Blanc in the Italian Alps region. ‘The training is intense. It is six days a week out on the slopes and in spring, summer and autumn we do physical training like running and athletics. But it’s worth it. My family and friends are proud of me. I want to be the best I can be in this sport. If I work hard I stand a good chance of doing that.’
Legal eagle Sonya Passi
Cheshire-born Sonya Passi is a lawyer now living and working in LA. Over the past six years, Sonya has established herself as one of the very big names in the law and policy industry.
The former head girl of Withington Girls’ School was recently named in the Forbes 30 under 30 awards as one of America’s young change-makers for her outstanding advocacy work on domestic violence. Sonya has not only carved a successful career in the US, but she has set up nonprofit organisations which have helped survivors of abuse and ensured they achieve justice and economic stability.
These awards recognise individuals who are innovators within their industries and Sonya is certainly that and more, as her outstanding work and accomplishments have resulted in her receiving recognition from Forbes’ formidable judging panel.
Sonya, whose family still live locally in Mottram St Andrew, praises Withington, a school she feels helped prepare her for her future endeavours. She said: ‘Existing in that incubator for seven years gave me confidence and belief in myself that remains my greatest strength’.
Digital wizz Arran Rice
Arran Rice’s digital career began in 2011 in his bedroom in rural Middlewich. With a laptop bought as a Christmas gift, Arran started experimenting with different basic websites, YouTube channels and gaming sites and quickly realised the money potential; turning his hobby into a fully-fledged business. Arran has since taken the digital world by storm.
The online entrepreneur has created over 500 websites, 200 mobile applications and has a portfolio of successful companies under his belt...all at the tender age of 18.
In the early stages, Arran set up many websites and apps with varying success, but it was Wizzed Media, now under his umbrella company Mad News Limited, that started to gain real success. Wizzed Media is an entertainment website aimed at a young audience and it generated a staggering revenue of £2.5 million in its first year.
Being a digital entrepreneur has not always been a breeze, as finding out which businesses worked was a case of trial and error, plus he was balancing all this while in full-time education. Now finished with education, Arran moved to London last year after opening offices in Camden for Wizzed Media with plans to develop the company and to establish new ventures.
Musician Matthew Brett
It was almost by chance that Matthew Brett’s talents were discovered. His elder sisters Sophie and Natasha played for Crewe Co-operative Wind Band and being the youngest of the family, aged 10, he was taken to rehearsals. The conductor decided it would be good for Matthew, from Haslington, to have something constructive to do and gave him a drum kit. It wasn’t long before his skills shone and he officially joined the band.
Fast forward five years and the Sandbach School pupil, who has branched out into wider percussion, has lessons with renowned orchestral performer Mark Concar. Matthew was last year a finalist in the BBC Young Musician. He has played with the Cheshire Constabulary Band and Fodens Band, including recording a Fodens CD. But his passion is for orchestras. He was awarded a prestigious Sylvia Graucob bursary and has played percussion with the Halle Youth Orchestra for three years. For the past 12 months he has had a place with the National Youth Orchestra. Both have presented him with incredible opportunities. He has just recorded a CD, Holst’s Planets, with the latter.
Matthew, who also plays the piano, is a prize-winning composer and hopes to become a soloist and an orchestral player. He won the Harp on Wight composition competition after writing a short piece for solo harp. ‘I love the variety,’ said Matthew. ‘I did work with the Crewe Wind Band at the Royal Albert Hall in front of 9,000. That really stands out to me. But I could be doing a solo performance or playing with a large group. I love it all. I’ve had incredible opportunities and met amazing musicians. I’m determined to become a professional myself.’
But there have been sacrifices– mainly by his mum, Ella. She has had to give up her bedroom to accommodate all Matthew’s musical instruments, including a huge marimba!