AN aspiring Skelmorlie actor has told how a funding mix-up has left him on the brink of having to giving up a hard-won place at a top drama school.

Ben Sweeney, 22, was accepted into Italia Conti in London after three years of working through college funded by part-time jobs.

The student - who has beaten brain surgery to follow his dream - was preparing for the first day at the prestigious drama academy when he found out he did not have the funding required to cover his four years there.

He said: “It was a complete shock, I thought I had enough to pay for the course but it's fallen short.

“I was hoping to get my job transferred but that has fallen through and it’s a struggle to find another, especially with classes from 9am till 7pm almost every day.

“My mum has paid the first instalment but there is only so much she can do, I don’t know whether I might have to give the place up."

Ben has set up a funding page online in the hope that the community will support his dream.

He explained: “If I can maybe get enough to continue my first year then hopefully by then I can find a job or get a scholarship.”

Ben was forced to sell his car to pay for his accommodation in London and estimates he needs around £9,000 to remain on the course.

The Skelmorlie native, who has appeared in adverts and as extras in films such as Churchill, says any support people can give 'would mean the world to him'.

He said: “I’m amazed of what has come of me putting that page up, that people are helping and doing what they can.

“It would mean everything to be able to stay down here and pursue my passion in life.

“I want to be able to give back to the people that helped in the future as well, I don’t know if I can get the whole of Inverclyde free tickets to my first big show, but I’ll try my best."

The aspiring actor says he has harboured dreams of making it in the industry since playing Fizz in Bugsy Malone at Skelmorlie Primary School.

He explained: “I was very shy when I was younger and my mum pushed me to get on stage so I would come out of my comfort zone. Once I started I loved it from the first minute.

“While I was at high school I had to undergo brain surgery and the doctors said I could end up in a wheelchair. That made me realise that acting was what I wanted to do and I should pursue it no matter what."

Italia Conti is one of the top drama schools in the country and Ben says it was an honour to be accepted after three years of applying while he completed drama degrees at college in Paisley.

He said: “I got the letter to say I had got in just before lockdown.

"Not many people get accepted and it really is the opportunity of a lifetime, one of the top schools for acting in the UK."

“People said I should give up after I didn’t get in the first few times, but I always knew that this is what I needed to do and I never thought about saying no.”

Ben says living in London has been a change from the quiet streets of the village.

He explained: “It has been a big culture shock and a big change from living in Skelmorlie.

“It’s been a steep learning curve but I love it.

“I did have to phone my mum though and ask her how to work the washing machine, but apart from that it’s been a great experience. I just don't want it to end because of money."

You can support Ben at