Primary school teacher, part-time model and cross-community worker Rachelle Liggett is Portadown’s Person of be Proud of 2014!
Rachelle (24) polled more than 500 votes in the competition, and was the clear winner out of a total of 19 nominees.
Other local people who received a high number of votes were youth leader Maxine Chambers and James Cunningham, deputy head boy at Portadown College who is registered blind.
Names of the nominees were put forward by the public, who were then able to vote for their favourite by text or post.
The prize was £400 of shopping vouchers to be spent in Magowan West, High Street Mall, Asda and the Meadows Shopping Centre (all four sponsored the competition).
Rachelle, who lives on the Old Gilford Road, plans to give half her winnings to her mum, Pauline, and is looking forward to “having a big day out in town and treating ourselves”.
She said she was shocked but “very humbled and very appreciative” to have won. She added, “It’s nice to be so well thought of in my own town, and to know that people took the time to vote for me.”
A P4 teacher at Millington Primary School, Rachelle has been working there since the end of last year, having graduated just a few months previously with a First Class degree from Stranmillis University College.
She said, “I love teaching but it’s hard work. I spend most of my weekends doing marking and paperwork, but it’s really rewarding.”
Her love of young people has seen her volunteer with cross-community organisations, including the Corrymeela centre, to bring young people together through workshops and drama.
And the tolerance message is one she shares with her pupils in the classroom.
Rachelle is also a model with Style Academy in Belfast - her modelling career having taken off when she won Miss Ireland and Miss Oyster Pearl in 2011 - and in her spare time does fashion and wedding work.
Life was not always so rosy for Rachelle who had leukaemia when she was 10 and spent two years undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, missing out on schooling in the process.
However, she has used the experience as a force for good, and does a lot of fundraising for the children’s haematology ward in the Royal where she was a patient.