Catherine Fleming from Ballinamallard has received the highest mark in the UK in Grade 7 Silver Medal Speech and Drama.

The 17-year-old, who attends lessons with speech and drama teacher Eva Baxter, was over the moon to learn that she had received the top mark, passing the New Era Academy (NEA)examinations Level 3 Award with a Distinction.

Catherine also received the top mark in the UK when she completed her Grade 4 Speech and Drama exam. New Era Academy is an international awarding body recognised by OFQUAL.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter about achieving top results, Catherine said: “It didn’t really sink in. I was very happy, very pleased with it.”

For the examination, Catherine had to learn a poem, perform a piece of drama and do a presentation as well as complete a theory element.

“I had to do a lot of different characters and voices. The drama piece was a scene from ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, by Tennessee Williams, and the poem I performed was ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, by Wilfred Owen,” she said, going on to note that she also focused her presentation on the life of Wilfred Owen.

Commenting on her favourite performance, Catherine said: “I really enjoyed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, doing the piece and the acting, because I really got to get into the character and become a different person, which was really fun.

“It’s about wealthy cotton planters in Southern America, so they have Southern accents,” she added, noting how she enjoyed performing with arelevant accent.

Catherine’s speech and drama teacher Eva was “delighted” with her success. She said: “I was delighted when the New Era Academy in London contacted me with this news.

“It was a great achievement.”

Catherine was grateful for the support of Eva, saying: “She feels like a friend who is there to help you and guide you every step of the way.

“It’s really fun; she gives you good, constructive feedback.”

Following her success at the Silver Medal Grade 7, Catherine will go on to complete the Gold Medal Grade 8 this year.

She said: “I’m going on to do Grade 8 this year but I don’t plan to use it as a career prospect, I want to go on and be a doctor.”

Although the Enniskillen Royal Grammar School student doesn’t plan to pursue a career in drama, she believes studying speech and drama has helped her confidence and how she portrays herself – attributes she has found beneficial in her everyday life.

“It’s just helped me in my daily life as well as in drama and school as well,” said Catherine.