A BOY with a rare talent and passion for ballet has had his biggest wish granted after winning a place at a prestigious dance school.

Toby Horton, from Durham, has secured a three-year residential placement at The Royal Ballet School in London.

He will move to the school's famous Grade I-listed villa in Richmond Park, where he will receive classical ballet training alongside his regular academic studies.

The 11-year-old Neville's Cross Primary School pupil was one of just a small number of boys out of 900 who auditioned to be selected for the school.

But it wasn't a case of overnight success for Toby, as he has shown dedication in pursuing his dream and developing his natural dancing talent for six years.

He began dancing at The Polka Dance School, in Durham, aged five and teacher Steph Matthews said she knew straight away he had the potential to go far.

She said: "I remember saying to his mam, Janet, she should prepare for something big because there aren't many children like Toby.

"He said he wanted to be a ballet dancer or a marionette puppeteer, you don't hear that often."

Toby applied to join the Royal Ballet School's junior associate scheme and it took him three years to get a place on weekly sessions in Newcastle, alongside his regular lessons and being an Elmhurst Young Dancer in association with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

He then applied to study at the Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet School, and was offered a place at each.

Mrs Matthews said: "To be offered Birmingham was amazing, but then to get a residential at the Royal was incredible – that is very rare, the one every kid wants and really quite special.

"For the last year his associate training has been online, he had to send in videos to apply until his final audition in person.

"He has worked so hard and is so talented he absolutely deserves it and I feel like he will go on to do something really special.

"I'm just thrilled, he's shown it is possible for a normal kids from a normal family to win such a prestigious opportunity.

"He's never been under any pressure, it is all his doing. Ballet is just in him, he knows such much about classical ballet and can tell me all about the music as soon as he hears a piece.

"He'll be living in this grand estate, getting incredible training and if all pans out he can have the career he wants in ballet."