Falkirk-born opera singer Cheryl Forbes has been named the area’s arts personality of the year, while dancer Adam Lake was given the Provost’s Cup for young personality of the year.
The awards were given by Falkirk and District Arts and Civic Forum at a civic reception that was held to mark the 50th year of the Tryst Festival.
The Forum’s chairwoman, Agnes Mullan, said: “The prizes are awarded to people who we think have been outstanding, who have put Falkirk on the map and deserve to have their talent recognised. Cheryl is a Falkirk gem and thoroughly deserves this award.”
Cheryl was delighted to receive the award. It puts her in the same company as former winners including artist Elizabeth Blackadder, broadcaster Kaye Adams, writer Alan Bissett and piper Stuart Cassells.
She said: “It is a great privilege to be given the Personality of the Year award by The Falkirk District Arts & Civic Council for 2016.
“Considering the esteemed past recipients, I am really very humbled.”
Cheryl was selected by the committee to receive the award in recognition of a career that began, aged just 17, when she was in the unique position of having been accepted on a scholarship to all five of the UK top music conservatoires.
She chose to study at the Guildhall School of Music and was the youngest singer the school had ever accepted.
Cheryl continued her studies at the RSAMD and also in New York where she studied with Marilyn Horne and the Metropolitan Opera Coach, Frederick Carama.
She has appeared in prestigious venues, both at home and abroad, working with many leading orchestras.
But the singer, who proudly regards herself as working class, has never forgotten her roots.
She said: “Falkirk’s eclectic cultural life has given me much to be thankful for and what a great honour to be given recognition from a town that gave me so much.
“Were it not for the many and varied opportunities I was given as a young musician, I most probably wouldn’t have ended up a with a career as a professional opera singer.
“I was involved with many outstanding organisations in the town and lucky enough to work with the most inspirational and gifted mentors, all of whom certainly made their mark on my early musical life.”
Many of the groups and personalities Cheryl mentions are still part of the Tryst Festival, which will hold its 50th event in May.
She said: “Groups such as Falkirk Children’s Theatre, Falkirk Festival Chorus and Falkirk Young Artists Performing Society (now Classic Music Live!) proved life-changing and I will forever be grateful for the amazing opportunities and skills these groups gave me.”
Two former award winners were singled out for all their help in Cheryl’s early years.
She said: “I can’t talk about Falkirk and music and not mention Bob and Christine Tait who both featured heavily in my early musical life in Falkirk – even taking me to see live opera performances at Scottish Opera – and I’m proud to call these two wonderful ambassadors for music in Scotland dear friends.”
The awards were presented at the civic reception as neither Cheryl nor Adam Lake could attend the Falkirk Arts and Sports awards where the trophies are normally presented.
Adam has a busy schedule as an original cast member in the premiere West End production of Kinky Boots.
The show at the Adelphi Theatre has been named Best New Musical at the What’s On Awards.
He started dancing at the Stenhouse School of Dance and went on to train at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts where he got a BA Hons and the Dance School of Scotland musical theatre course, achieving the ATCL Diploma with distinctions.
Adam has since starred in the West End revival of CATS at the London Palladium and touring the UK and Europe.
His TV credits include Sunday Night at the London Palladium on ITV and BBC’s Totally Dance School.
Agnes Mullan presented both performers with their awards.
She said: “Adam is a credit to Falkirk district, not only as a young performer but surely as an inspiration to other young dancers.
“We wish him all the very best for the future and we are proud to be able to honour him in this way.”