A BUDDING West End star celebrated the end of his GCSEs by beating the odds to secure a spot at one of the country’s most prestigious performing arts schools.

St Paul’s Catholic College student Jarrod Hopson, of Burgess Hill, has bagged a place in the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.

Following a tough audition process, a record 4,800 young people competed for just 560 places.

Jarrod’s talents shone through and the 16-year-old was selected for a special course to develop complex stage skills.

The place is so coveted that Jarrod will miss part of his family holiday for the chance to work with the world- leading youth arts organisation which has nurtured acting talents such as Dame Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Orlando Bloom, Timothy Dalton, Colin Firth and Downton Abbey star Nigel Harman, who is also a patron for ArielCompany Theatre.

Burgess Hill Ariel Drama Academy principal Bev Locke said: “We are so proud of Jarrod, he really is an all-round performer and has taken on a wide range of challenging roles from dramatic acting in plays like The History Boys to productions such as Miss Saigon that demand both dancing and singing skills.

“He has even taken on stand-up comedy, which as we all know is no mean feat.”

The London-based course will include stage fighting, character development, advanced acting and stage craft.

Jarrod first trod the boards aged seven in a production of Joseph and the Technicoloured Dream Coat, and this year joined fellow Ariel students to perform in the semi- finals of BBC’s Sports Relief Does Glee Club.

He can be seen in Ariel Drama Academy’s next play DNA on October 31 and November 1.

His achievement adds to an outstanding year for Ariel, which also boasts two other students - Tara Lucas and Will Carey - who have won coveted places with the musical theatre side of the National Youth Theatre.

The National Youth Theatre was established in 1956, the world’s first specialist youth theatre. It gives young perfomers unparalleled opportunities to perform in both the West End and at stadium venues.