A talented young singer is looking for the backing of local businesses to help him reach new heights.
Eleven-year-old Ben Bartlett, from Hartlepool, has been awarded a place with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and has the chance to perform in concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
But his family are seeking sponsorship as he is required to attend two residential courses in the capital to help develop his classical voice.
Ben, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome - a form of autism - when he was six, but singing brought about a massive improvement in his behaviour.
“Music has grounded him,” said mum Julie Bartlett. “When he was seven and eight me and my husband were past ourselves with his behaviour.
“We tried everything including outside agencies. Ben had always sang since he was a tiny baby and we thought we would give it a go.
He is an amazingly talented young singer but these professionals are going to give him so much moreMum Julie Bartlett
“He is a bit like Susan Boyle the way he is nervous beforehand, but when he goes out on stage people say he is born to be up there.
“He loves being on stage. He says it’s because he doesn’t have to be him.”
Ben, of Dyke House, who goes to English Martyrs School, won a prized place with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain’s after auditioning along with hundreds of others at The Sage music venue in Gateshead in November.
Julie, a teaching assistant at Catcote Futures, which provides post-19 education for peoople with special needs, added: “He is an amazingly talented young singer, but these professionals are going to give him so much more.
“It will take him to another level.
“He has to attend at least two residential courses in London, one in April and another in July but they cost over £1,000.
“We were wondering if any local business might be willing to sponsor him or make a donation.”
Last year, Ben won the Most Promising Musician Award at the Hartlepool Music and Arts Festival, beating town teenager Michael Rice, who previously impressed on The X Factor.
Anyone interested in supporting Ben can contact Julie on 07712 609842.