Swindon-born mezzo soprano, Polly Leech, turned her back on the white coat of research and laboratory experiments to opt for her music.

The 23-year-old singer, now based in London, graduated from Durham University with a BSC Hons in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.

While at university the young scientist was also studying music and took part in a number of productions with the Durham Opera Ensemble. She also learned her craft nearer to home with vocal tutor Janice Thompson from the JTP Trust.

Polly went on to the Royal College of Music where she gained a postgraduate Masters in Vocal Performance with distinction. She was a Britten Pears Young Artist and an Opera Awards Foundation Bursary recipient.

She is currently doing a season with De Nationale Opera and will be performing the role of Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Opera Comedie with the Opera Orhestre Nation Montpellier Occitanie next May.

This weekend the mezzo soprano will fly back from Amsterdam to her home town, to perform alongside concert pianist Paul Turner as part of the Swindon Recital Series at the Arts Centre.

Polly won the Basil A Turner Prize and the Dame Hilda Brackett Award from Sadler's Wells for her roles in Malcolm Williamson's English Eccentrics.

She had recently performed as Hansel in Hansel und Gretel with Pop-Up Opera, sung in The Magic Flute and The Mikado with the Charles Court Opera.

Her solo oratorio performances include venues such as St Martin's In The Field, Durham Cathedral, York Minster, Wigmore Hall and Snape Maltings.

In the past she has lent her talent to local groups include Madam Renard's Mini Fringe and Swindon's Gilbert and Sullivan Society. Her portrayal of Diana Dors in Swindon: The Opera, composed by London-based Betty Roe MBE, was part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which won her much acclaim both locally and nationally. Polly won the Supreme Championship in the Swindon Music Festival twice, in 2011 and 2014.

Polly and Paul will be performing Elgar's Sea Pictures, Schumann's song cycle Op 90 and works by Duparc at the Old Town Theatre on Sunday December 2 from 7.30pm. Tickets are £16 from 01793 524481 or visit www.swindontheatres.co.uk - Flicky Harrison