Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model Lauren Lambert says Wallington will always be home
A world of glamour and globe-trotting awaits the winner of a top TV modelling contest - but Wallington's Lauren Lambert says the area will always be her home.
Miss Lambert, 23, fended off competition from two other aspiring models to win the final of Sky TV show Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model and land herself a contract with a top modelling agency.
Miss Lambert on the cover of this month's edition of Company
Now the Wallington woman is appearing on the front of women's magazine Company and has her face on the packets for Revlon styling products but says her new life is a far cry from the situation she found herself in when she was 15 and homeless.
The final of the popular show, in which judges Elle Macpherson and Dannii Minogue chose Miss Lambert to win, was shown on Thursday night but had been recorded in April - meaning she had to keep the result a secret from her nearest and dearest.
She said: "It's been pretty tough not telling anyone but I've just tried not to think about it. I did tell a few people, I told my sister my father and my mother, but it was so hard not to mention it - especially when people kept asking me!
"It was still really weird watching it on TV. It was quite emotional and I started crying and I think all my family thought I'd lost! I remember when it happened - I was completely shocked, I felt like I was going to pass out. They did that thing where they pause before they announce the winner and they kept us waiting for so long. Watching it back was so strange."
A shot of Miss Lambert taken at the start of the competition
Miss Lambert, who moved to the UK from St Lucia aged 10, said she hopes the victory will lead to her being able to travel the world but admitted it all seemed a long way off when she was kicked out of home aged just 15.
She added: "I think my situation when I was 15 has helped me become the person I am. It was very difficult at the time. I was very unstable and had nowhere to go - I was lost.
"But it all happened for a reason and it's taught me how to be strong minded and strong willed. It made me understand how it is to struggle and how hard I would have to work to get where I want to be.
"I hope and pray this leads on to big things for me and I get to travel the world and things like that - but I'll always come back to Wallington. It's home and it's familiar ground."