AN 11-year-old girl from Calne will be one pirouette closer to achieving her dream as a professional ballet dancer after she was accepted into a prestigious ballet school in London.

Gemma Skinner, of Salmons Close, who has been dancing since the age of three, was accepted into the Young Dancers Academy in Hammersmith last month and will be whisked away to the vocational school to learn the trade during the week and return to Wiltshire and her family at the weekend.

The Derry Hill Primary School pupil, who idolises the likes of Darcey Bussell and Francesca Hayward, is looking forward to starting her journey in September and her first foray into the professional dancing world.

"I am really excited," she said. "I won't be sad to leave because I will be doing what I love. It is only a small school and I will be staying there during the week so it will be quite like a family."

"It all started when she was three or four and she was quickly spotted by her teacher for her talents," mum Nicky said. "We are so proud of her and although it is a big sacrifice for us, it is her dream.

"She does 15 hours of ballet every week on top of school and that was one of the reasons she wanted to go to a vocational school so that she could have a balance between her academic studies and the ballet.

"She is so excited about it and whatever she wants to do, we will always support her. We will have to pick her up and drop her off every week so we will be looking for sponsorship to help Gem achieve her dreams and every donation big or small would be greatly appreciated."

Beccy Petty-Fitzmaurice, who has been teaching Gemma for eight years at the FitzGraham Academy of Dance in Chippenham, added: "We pride ourselves on our teaching here but Gemma is a lovely student and has been an absolute joy to teach and has always been determined and ambitious.

"It was only from the age of five that I thought she was quite a good candidate for a little dancer and she has dug her heels in to work consistently so we will make sure to follow her progress."

If you are interested in sponsoring Gem to help her dream come true, email the family on