A TEENAGER is issuing a desperate plea for help after winning a place at a prestigious London drama school three years running and not being able to afford to take it up.

The Arts Educational’s three-year musical theatre degree course attracts scores of students to audition each year, of which just a handful are offered a place.

Despite holding concerts and working hard to raise the £12,750 a year plus living costs needed to attend, Jackie-Ross Lavender has not managed to get enough money together to attend the school, which has Julie Andrews, Martin Clunes, Jane Seymour, Valerie Singleton, Charlie Brooks and Bonnie Langford as famous ex-students.

Now he has won a place on a one-year postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music, which includes Elton John, Annie Lennox, Myleene Klass, Simon Rattle and H from Steps among its former pupils.

He is now hoping that the shorter course will prove easier to fund, and is staging a concert to kickstart his campaign.

Jackie-Ross, from West Moors, said: “Last year I was absolutely determined to be able to take up my place at Arts Ed, so as a part of my fundraising efforts I hosted a show paying homage to all the greatest composers of the past century.

“Despite us selling out the show I was still unable to take up my place at Arts Ed.

“Now I have been offered a place at the Royal Academy, which costs £13,800 with no forms of scholarship or bursary available from the academy.

“I can afford to pay for the bulk of the tuition fees with a career development loan, however you have to pay a course deposit in the spring of £3,450, so here comes another concert, but this year we’re doing it bigger and better.”

The Songs of My Life: An Evening with Jackie-Ross Lavender & Guests will be a concert paying tribute to legends across the music industry including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, John Mayer, Randy Newman, Michael Jackson and Alan Menken.

The show will be staged at 1pm, 5pm and 8pm on March 30 at the Barrington Centre in Penny’s Walk, Ferndown.

It will feature a cast of eight young local singers with a five-piece band. Tickets are £10 from ticketsource.co.uk/jackrossmusic or contact 07540 365547.