Lucy Eccles, 22, of Swinley, has finished her studies at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), four years after the Wigan community helped to raise £4,000 towards the cost of her course.
And when she received her hard-earned first-class degree at LIPA, it was the Beatles’ legend Sir Paul McCartney who presented it.
Mum Jill said “even four years on, it’s unbelievable”.
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Lucy’s LIPA story began in 2018 when Alan Gregory, from Pianos Pies & Pirouettes CIC, launched a campaign to fund her studies.
As LIPA is a conservatoire rather than a university, Lucy was ineligible for usual student loans and grants.
Dubbing it a “real-life Billy Elliot”, Alan was determined to make her dream become reality.
He said at the time it was deeply unfair to be denied the opportunity to pursue a dream because of budget concerns.
What happened next via a crowdfunding scheme helped Lucy enrol on the foundation courses.
The Wigan community contributed £4,000, Wigan Council boosted the campaign with £1,000 and an anonymous donor donated the rest of the money needed.
Jill said: “We can’t quite put into words our gratitude to the Wigan community who all chipped in and showed their support and even four years on it’s unbelievable.
"We also mustn’t forget the amazing gesture from Wigan Council to match the crowd-funding figure, which ensured we reached the required target.”
In the meantime, Alan had made Lucy the first recipient of the Winifred Gregory Trust Fund to help her future dancing. She was doing her A-levels at Winstanley College at the time.
Sir Paul McCartney joined scholars at the graduation ceremony, awarding honorary accolades including a first-class degree to Wigan’s very own up and coming performing arts star.
Jill said: "Once Lucy gained entry into LIPA there was no doubt in my mind that she would achieve such great things.
"I just knew she would do it because dance is her passion.”
Lucy’s next chapter will see her auditioning for job roles and gain experience within the industry.
Sir Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty founded LIPA in 1995 to provide the best education for people wanting a career in performing arts.