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Many strings to the bow . . .

Abi and Dan Cook

Two talented Mensan siblings are hitting the high notes with success in high-ranking music exams.

But music is just one of the areas in which Daniel and Abigail Cook, from south Wales, excel.

Daniel, 15, has already achieved a distinction for his grade 8 piano exam - the highest grade possible - and will take grade 8 violin next month. Abigail, 12, is working towards grade 6 in the same two instruments

They have both been members of Mensa since the age of 10 and have a combination of academic and music scholarships to attend Ffynone House independent day school in Swansea. 

Daniel has already achieved an A* in Latin GCSE and Abigail has been advanced to a higher school year – but their skills are not limited to intellectual pursuits.

Both are gifted pianists, violinists and writers, among many other interests and hobbies.

Daniel has already achieved a distinction for his grade 8 piano exam - the highest grade possible - and will take grade 8 violin next month. Abigail is working towards grade 6 in the same two instruments, and both have been part of the Associated Board’s annual high scorers’ concert in Mumbles.

They have achieved many gold medals and awards in the annual Abertawe Festival for Young Musicians and a number of other competitions, and both have successfully auditioned for seasons with the prestigious National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain as well as the West Glamorgan Children’s Orchestra.

Daniel was previously a member of the National Children’s String Sinfonia in 2010 and last year both won places in the highly acclaimed National Children’s Chamber Orchestra of Great Britain, which led to a demanding but enjoyable eight-day residential course in Hatfield.

But it’s not just music where the pair excel. Both have a raft of publications to their names in genres as diverse as poetry, short stories and a recipe, and both have achieved high grades in LAMDA speech exams.

A highlight this year was an invitation for Daniel and Abigail to represent their school at the Queen’s Commonwealth Day Observance speech at Westminster Abbey, for which they were selected through an essay competition. Abigail has since been awarded a silver certificate for her particular essay.

Six members of the royal family, including Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and Camilla, were present at the event, as well as the Commonwealth Secretary-General, senior politicians and high commissioners, and high profile speakers such as Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Lord Sebastian Coe.

Daniel said: “My life is extremely busy but very fulfilling. I wouldn’t want it any other way!”

Abigail said being part of Mensa was a source of pride. She said: “I was so thrilled to be accepted as a member. I couldn’t believe it, at first. It took a little while to sink in.”

Other pursuits have had to take a back seat to the increasing demands of music and school, but Daniel played chess to a very high level and Abigail studied ballet to RAD grade 5.