Models explain why they want to win the crown of Miss Staffordshire
As the closing date draws near for entries to the Miss Staffordshire contest, Zita Collinson meets some of the models competing for a chance to win the titles
Sporty Lauren Beresford hopes that her dedication to fitness will set her apart from the crowd. When she's not playing netball for Newcastle Town under-18s, she can be found being put through her paces at the gym.
Currently working as a sales assistant, Lauren aims to one day break into fitness modelling.
And she thinks winning Miss Staffordshire could be a step in the right direction.
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The 18-year-old from Werrington was one of several women who attended auditions at Uttoxeter Racecourse earlier this month.
Dozens of hopefuls were at the event, which saw them take part in a photo shoot and an interview with a panel of judges, in a bid to be crowned with the prestigious title.
But they now face an anxious wait to discover if they've been selected for the finals at the racecourse which will be held on Saturday, May 18.
The winner will then go on to represent the county in the national Miss England pageant.
Lauren says: "Winning something so prestigious would be a good start for me because I want to eventually get into fitness modelling.
"It's not about being extreme like some people would think it is. It's more about being toned and healthy.
"I think I'd be a good representative for the county and I'd love to make it to the final because you don't know where it could lead."
Lauren has ambitions to either open her own salon or one day become a personal trainer.
In the meantime, she would like to go travelling to Australia – where her grandad Graham Barnett played professional football.
Former Port Vale star Graham is backing his granddaughter for success, alongside her mum and dad, Jane and Andrew.
Lauren, who has taken part in a campaign for Manchester-based Karma Clothing, has two sisters – Alana, aged 12, and 17-year-old Poppy.
She continues: "I'm on a gap year at the moment just figuring out what I want to do.
"I'd really like to go to Australia, which is where my mum was born.
"I hope I get through to the finals. I'm quite confident and my sport shows that I'm very dedicated if I set my mind to something."
First-time model Freya Thompson is 22 and lives in Stafford. She is a qualified hairdresser but is currently working in business and administration for an education company.
"This is the first time I've entered a competition," says Freya. "I have the attitude that if you don't try something, you'll never know what could have been. I also wanted to represent Stafford."
If Freya wins – and she'll find out if she's made the finals of the competition on March 26 – she hopes to one day open her own hairdressing salon.
"Hairdressing is my deep-down passion," she continues. "And if I get through to the finals, I've already got some ideas about what I'd like my hair to look like."
Partner of five years Martin Fu, aged 25, is lending his girlfriend his full support and Freya also has the backing of her family.
"They've all been brilliant," she says. "I class myself as a very outgoing and bubbly person and I'm willing to give anything a go.
"I'm just looking forward to taking part. For me, it's about the experience."
Emma Beswick is already seasoned when it comes to strutting her stuff on the catwalk. The 5ft 7in 17-year-old from Birches Head previously competed in the Miss Teen Queen competition, a nation-wide search to find the face of the future.
When she was 15, she was one of 50 girls picked out of thousands of hopefuls to take part in the finals at Alexandra Palace in London.
"It was a great experience," says Emma, who is studying Psychology, Sociology and English Literature at Newcastle-under-Lyme College, and hopes to be a solicitor. "The competition started off with 9,500 and I got down to the final 50."
Emma continues: "I think I'd be a good representative for Staffordshire.
"I'd hope to do a lot for charity, which I did when I took part in Miss Teen Queen. I raised money for the MAD Foundation by doing things like car washes, and I'd want to do a bit more fund-raising if I won Miss Staffordshire."
Meanwhile, Emma says the other contestants at the auditions are supportive of each other.
"Everyone seems really nice and lovely," she says. "There's no atmosphere like you'd expect.
"I had an interview and had my pictures taken. I think it went well and I hope I get through."
Paige Harrison hopes to combine a teaching career with modelling and sees Miss Staffordshire as an opportunity to launch herself into the spotlight.
The 20-year-old size six college student is currently volunteering at a Staffordshire Moorlands primary school and middle school to realise her ambition.
"When I was 16 I took part in a modelling competition at The Potteries Shopping Centre but I haven't done anything since," says Paige, who is due to start a foundation degree at Leek College in September.
"I've always wanted to get into modelling but it's just knowing where to start. I think Miss Staffordshire would be an amazing experience and a good opportunity.
"If you win you get to compete in the Miss England competition and that would be just fantastic."
Now Paige, who lives in Leek, is waiting to hear if she's made the final on May 18. She is being supported by her boyfriend Daniel Mannion, aged 22.
"He's really chuffed for me," says Paige. "He keeps saying that I'm going win and when I tell him I'm not, he tells me I'm his Miss Universe anyway.
"Not everybody knows I'm taking part yet, but I'm sure all my family will be behind me.
"I met some lovely people at the audition and there were girls there who I thought were absolutely stunning. I wished them all the best.
"To be able to do modelling alongside teaching would be great, but teaching is what I eventually want to do. It's really satisfying to know when you've helped a child to learn something."
It's the third time lucky for Dominique Cristini. The 22-year-old from Baddeley Green previously attempted to enter the Miss Staffordshire competition but missed the deadline.
Work commitments last year meant that beautician Dominique wasn't able to complete an application.
So in 2013, she was determined to put herself forward for the contest.
Dominique, 5ft 3in, runs her own business, Dominique's Beauty Boutique, and also recently signed up to a modelling agency.
"I've always wanted to model," says Dominique, "and my family has always encouraged me 100 per cent but the type of person I am means I'm very driven. I'm independent and I will push myself.
"There are many reasons why winning Miss Staffordshire would mean so much to me. I've wanted to get into it for a long time. Three years ago, I found out about it at the last minute, sat up really late at night and typed up my application but submitted it to the wrong section.
"I called up the next day and they told me to put it in the post but it had to arrive that day. Even though I sent it express it still didn't get there in time.
"This year I was determined to get the application in as early as possible.
"Winning Miss Staffordshire would be a dream come true. To be able to represent my county in Miss England is something I'd love to do."
Following in her dad's footsteps is what Natalie Jackson eventually hopes to do. The 20-year-old from Baddeley Green has been helping out at the family business, Jackson Carpets, for as long as she can remember.
And when dad Pete retires later this year, Natalie is aiming to take over the reins.
In the meantime, the 5ft 3in health care assistant is making her modelling debut by entering the Miss Staffordshire contest.
She has previously appeared in the beauty pages of The Sentinel Magazine but never thought about putting herself forward for a competition.
But thanks to the encouragement of Pete, mum Julie and boyfriend Jason Allcock, aged 24, she decided to submit her application.
She thinks her audition went well but is waiting to see if she's made it through to the final.
Natalie says: "I've always been interested in modelling.
"I wasn't nervous at the audition but some of the other girls seemed to be.
"The judges seemed quite surprised that I shook their hand. I am very bubbly. My dad's retiring this year and the plan is I'll take over the business from him. He's been running it for 27 years.
"I've always been in the showroom and he's taught me how to sell but I won't be fitting any carpets.
"I hope I get through to the next stage of the competition but for me I only applied for a bit of fun and for the experience of it."
Petite Chantelle Baldwin is proof that models come in all shapes and sizes. Standing at just 5ft 2in, the 22-year-old sales adviser from Blurton is making her modelling debut thanks to the Miss Staffordshire contest.
She says: "I've had people telling me that I should be a model and I've done portfolio work for friends in college before.
"I thought I'd give this a go to prove that you don't have to be 6ft tall and really skinny.
"It's just about being confident in your own skin and I see myself as quite a confident person."
Jazzmin French says her natural look means she's comfortable in her own skin. The 21-year-old from Stafford is unemployed but is hoping to study fashion and jewellery design at university.
"I've always been interested in fashion," says Jazzmin, who is being supported in the competition by her boyfriend and mum.
"I entered Miss Staffordshire because I thought it would be a good experience but I've never done anything like it before.
"The other girls seemed quite different to me at the auditions. I'd say I'm more natural. I don't wear much make-up and I'm quite relaxed and casual. I think I'd be a good representative for Staffordshire because I'm quite thoughtful and caring."
Entries are still being accepted to the Miss Staffordshire competition, up until the closing date of March 25. For further details contact the events team at Uttoxeter Racecourse on 01889 562561.