Cromer teenager from Aylsham High School is an M&S model
North Norfolk schoolgirl Ellie Burton is not just a model – she's an M&S model.
At the tender age of 14, Ellie is getting used to being recognised by strangers after appearing in advertising for Marks & Spencer, one of Britain's best-known and loved high-street chains.
Ellie, from Cromer, follows in the fashion footsteps of Gorleston girl Myleene Klass, who modelled for Marks & Spencer alongside fellow celebrities including Twiggy – although it is rumoured that Klass is among a number of star faces being dropped from future M&S campaigns.
It was mum Debbie Parry who encouraged Ellie to try for modelling work in the hope that success would boost her daughter's self-confidence after she went through a period of being bullied at a previous school.
And following several glamorous trips to photo shoots in London, where she has been earning an enviable �56 per hour, Ellie certainly feels she's now got one up on the bullies.
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Ellie, who has since made a happy switch to Aylsham High School, successfully applied to join the Norwich and London-based Sandra Reynolds model agency three years ago. Her big break came when Norwich's Chapelfield Shopping Centre offered her work and her face began appearing on Chapelfield TV commercials, billboards, and on the side of buses.
'That was really surreal,' said Ellie, who has an older brother and two older step-brothers. 'I wasn't expecting it and suddenly a bus would go past and there I was.'
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She nearly turned down the call to a casting session for M&S because she thought it would cost too much to travel to London and stay overnight, but her mum urged her to give it a go and Ellie impressed the casting panel with her knowledge of ballet moves, gleaned from many years of lessons at Dance Exchange, Cromer, and with teacher Tina Allison.
'There were hundreds of boys and girls there and I thought 'Oh yeah, I'm never going to get this!' but a few weeks later my stepdad texted me in the lunch hour at school to say they'd had a call and I'd got it – I was pretty gobsmacked,' said Ellie.
She has since taken part in three monthly sessions for M&S's schoolwear advertising and has revelled in the experience – from the close attention of make-up and hair artists, to the exacting requirements of the shoot which involved numerous fittings for clothes which were then sewn and steam-pressed to her exact shape.
And she has also enjoyed the glamour side of the modelling world.
On her first session in a London studio she walked into an area filled with chocolate croissants, luxury sofas and copies of fashion magazine Vogue – and on another occasion top model Kate Moss had breezed past while taking part in a shoot at the same studio for Rimmel cosmetics.
Ellie, who has also done work for East Anglian-based holiday company Hoseasons, said she would ideally like a career in modelling but recognised that very few made it to the top and so she was planning to keep up her studies.
Meanwhile she is enjoying the perks of the job, including attracting attention when she was in Norwich's Rampant Horse Street M&S branch recently – where an 18-month refit is due to be completed in October – and shoppers realised that she was featured in the store's catalogues.
She said: 'I acted embarrassed – but I loved it really!'