Eleanor Cunningham, now 21, has lived all her life in Peppard with her parents and older sister. Since October 2016 she has been studying at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London for a BA in Puppetry Design and Performance.
I was very interested to talk to Eleanor about her degree course and hear about how she had come to her unusual choice of study. Eleanor is just 4′ 7” tall as she has Noonan Syndrome, a rare condition, but what she lacks in height she certainly makes up for in determination. As a young child, Eleanor experienced difficulties with her peers and puppets had been used by counsellors to help her cope.
Once qualified she hopes to be able to use her skills to help other children experiencing problems. After attending local schools, Eleanor completed a two year BTECH qualification in Musical Theatre at Redroofs Theatre School followed by a year’s Extended Project Qualification in anti-bullying.
As part of her degree course Eleanor is working with a mentor at the Little Angel Puppet Theatre, Islington, and has made her own gender neutral puppet. She works with the puppet letting a child add extra features as suits that particular child and is working at setting up her own business to help children using puppets. She started a placement at Bishopswood Special School in January.
Eleanor is also a Student Ambassador for her university, having been chosen as one of 30 from 200 applicants. Her duties include taking part at careers’ fairs and taking prospective students on tours of the university campus.
Her family worships regularly at All Saints’ Church and from 8-18 years Eleanor was a member of the church choir. She gained her bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards and, after raising money for the trip herself, travelled to Romania in a group of 12 for two weeks on a World Challenge expedition.
Nothing seems to hold Eleanor back from what she wants to achieve and I cannot but admire her perseverance!