ACTORS from across the UK applied in their hundreds for the highly-regarded Theatre Royal education programme.

And following a demanding audition process, one budding thespian from Melrose landed one of the 18 starring roles.

Alexander Cowan will now embark on a year-long course of mentoring by top industry professionals, which in the past has included Royal Shakespeare Company voice coach Michael Corbridge and Ros Steen, the former head of vocal training at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Some of the acting world’s most famous names have trodden the boards at Newcastle's Theatre Royal including Dame Judy Dench and Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.

Alexander is delighted to be joining them. He told us: “I’m elated at being selected to train in such an iconic setting.

"As a young actor, to be recognised in this way has given my confidence a massive boost.

"This incredible opportunity stands to equip me with the skills, experiences and required work ethic to succeed in this highly competitive industry.”

It was Borders Youth Theatre which kick started Alexander’s acting passion complemented by promenade theatre company Shakespeare-at-Traquair.

By the age of 12 he had appeared in a CBBC TV show and a BAFTA nominated short film which toured the UK and Europe.

Just like Hollywood actor and fellow Borderer Jack Lowden, Earlston High School gave Alexander the chance to perform in musicals, shows and concerts.

He then joined local youth film project VOMO where he gained experience on screen taking part in hard-hitting dramas and documentaries.

Alexander earned a diploma in acting and performance at Edinburgh College and has started to gain professional work on projects including ITV's The Loch and an advert for Tesco Corporate.

Although Project A’s funders heavily subsidise the tuition fee, the living costs of relocating to Newcastle are proving a challenge.

And the actor has launched his own crowdfunding page in a bid to meet the costs.

He explained: "I’ll train for up to 40 hours per week in the theatre which leaves little time for a part-time job.

"As the programme is vocational, rather than accredited, I’m not eligible for tuition fees or a student loan - therefore, I’m trying to raise a year’s worth of living costs before September which is a tall order but one I’m willing to try.”

“I’m currently working a fulltime and part-time job as well as cycling about 100 miles a week to save on bus fares.

I’m also applying to specialist educational trusts and my family are supporting me too.

“No matter how big or small, every one of those donations to my crowdfunding is going to help me to focus more fully on my education. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me so far. I promise to work hard to become the best actor I can.

"Once I’m more established as a professional actor, it's my aim to return to Borders Youth Theatre and Shakespeare-at-Traquair to share my performance skills and experiences with the next generation of young talent, because that's where it all started for me.”

To support Alexander’s appeal visit