Annabel Harrison, a student at The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form College, Leyburn, gained 11 GCSEs at A*-C and will now move to Giggleswick School, renowned for its drama department.

The 16-year-old, of Thornton Rust, fell in love with the school after helping her mother Gillian deliver the family’s Wensleydale Ice Cream order and being wowed by the Richard Whiteley Theatre, built as a legacy to the former Countdown host.

“I didn’t realise they did scholarships and after the drama teacher showed us round I decided to go for it,” she said.

Annabel overcame chronic shyness as a primary school pupil to immerse herself in music and drama. She has been involved in countless concerts, performances and festivals in this country and abroad.

She took the lead role of Morticia in The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form College musical of the Addams Family.

“My teachers have really helped me,” she said. “They spotted some potential in me and have always been really enthusiastic.”

The Wensleydale School & Sixth Form head teacher Julia Polley said: “Annabel is an absolute star and I am sure she will make the most of this incredible opportunity. Her results and the variety of performances she has already been involved in show just how committed she is, which will stand her in good stead in the future.”

Annabel will now study A Levels in drama, biology and politics at Giggleswick School and an induction week will see her travel to London’s West End to watch two plays, tour backstage and take part in workshops.

“I’ve always wanted to visit the Globe Theatre so I can’t wait,” she said. “Then I’m looking forward to starting at Gigglewick, which will be perfect for me as it is like Wensleydale School in many ways as it is small and like a family.”

Before then she is busy over the holidays working to raise even more money for college life – with six part-time jobs.

Overall, 77 per cent of students achieved five or more GCSE passes, which represents the school’s strongest performance in three years. The percentage of students achieving both GCSE maths and English also improved 10 per cent from last year. 

Mrs Polley said: “This is an exceptionally good set of results for our students and I congratulate each and everyone of them for their dedication and hard work. This also demonstrates the continued improvement in the school’s performance and further supports our journey to become ‘outstanding.”

Other notable successes include: Alicia Hayden – 7A* 3A 1B; Emily Jones – 3A* 6A 2B; Joseph Monaghan – 10A* 3A 1B; and Chloe Sunter – 5A* 5A 1B.