AN aspiring actor is heading across the pond to search for his big break after local people came to the rescue to save his career.

Ben Sweeney was forced to set up a fundraising page after a mix-up left him on the brink of having to give up a coveted place at the iconic Italia Conti drama school in London.

It paid off and thanks to the generosity of family, friends and strangers, Ben’s career got back on track.

Now he has been awarded a scholarship to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Ben, from Skelmorlie, says the money raised to keep him at Italia Conti was a huge lifeline, and has offered a heartfelt thank-you to those who helped in his time of need.

He said: “I was amazed by the generosity of people and the fact that they were giving in such tough times.

“It has helped me a lot as it has allowed me to come here and I feel like I’ve improved in such a short period of time.

“It opened up the opportunity to go on and take this massive step in my life by going to America and pursuing my career.

“I want to say thank-you to everyone who has supported me, I can say that without their support I wouldn’t have been able to come here.”

Ben says he has always dreamed of forging a career across the Atlantic.

He said: “One of the things I dreamed about was going to America.

“The country has not been in the best state in the last couple of years but it was still a dream of mine to develop a career there.

“I am heading there in September to carry on my degree and I will be there for at least two years on a student visa.

“I have been lucky enough to get a scholarship to go there thanks to the audition I did to be accepted.”

Ben says it will be a huge change for him swapping the UK for the States, but he is looking forward to the next stage in his career

He said: “It is a big jump from coming down to London from Skelmorlie and then going across the water to America.

“It will be a whole different experience because of the time it takes to get home, at least in London I was only a few hours away.

“I think it will be a shock and it’s daunting moving that far away from home and experiencing a whole new way of life.

“It is something that needs to be done if I want to further my career and I just can’t wait to get started.”