Bentilee model Jade Thompson crowned Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model 2011
THE catwalk beckons for TV contestant Jade Thompson who has been crowned Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model 2011.
The petite 20-year-old beat fellow finalist Juste Juozapaityte to the title in the competition fronted by supermodel Elle Macpherson.
The former Birches Head High School pupil, of Dividy Road, Bentilee, secured a contract with agency Models 1, and a deal to grace four covers of Company magazine.
She impressed the panel of judges, which included Grace Woodward, male model Charley Speed and designer Julien MacDonald, with her distinctive look.
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Jade, who was bullied for her freckles and ginger hair at school, finished filming the programme in June and has had to keep her success a secret until now.
She said: "It's been a rollercoaster. I haven't been allowed to tell anybody the result apart from my immediate family."
As part of her prize Jade has also won a Peugeot RT2 and an all-expenses paid holiday to Jamaica for two.
Jade, a former Stoke-on-Trent College student, applied for a place on the Sky Living show after being spotted at the London Catwalk Show last October.
She beat thousands of hopefuls to make it through to the TV rounds of the competition along with 12 other contestants.
Jade, who is set to move to London next week to kick off her modelling career, had to perform a number of tasks throughout her time on the show including posing in a wedding dress and underwater.
She also had to master the art of cheerleading and speaking Spanish.
Jade admits her favourite challenge, set in Miami, was the 'go-see challenge' where she was sent to castings and clinched a $2,000 shopping trip.
She said: "The whole thing has been a whirlwind. I had never done any modelling before and there were times in the show where I didn't do very well and was close to being eliminated.
"I honestly never thought I would win because Juste is already a model and has been doing it for five years so I thought she would win straight away.
"Now the result has been announced I will have to work very hard."
Jade, who admits she is quite shy, was encouraged to enter the competition by her boyfriend Reuben Burt and her mother Dawn Evans.
She added: "It wasn't until I got through the first audition and met the judges for the first time that I realised how big the competition actually was and I wondered what I had let myself in for.
"But now I've done it, I am going to throw myself into my career and am going to give 100 per cent. I never dreamed this is where I would be."
Jade is hoping her new-found success will take her to America.
"That is what I really want to do because that opportunity is once-in-a-lifetime," added Jade.
Her mum Dawn, aged 47, admitted she cannot be prouder of her daughter.
She said: "I couldn't believe she won. When she told me, I was on holiday and I was so excited for her.
"Ever since she was about three years old, my friends have told me she would be a model and she has always been swamped by scouts whenever we went out anywhere.
"It all happened really fast. She was always shy at school and it is so lovely watching her on television because it's like she is growing up in front of my eyes.
"She always used to put herself down against the other girls so it is absolutely wonderful that she won, it's the best possible outcome and I only hope that this opens all sorts of doors for her."