Mother, 51, climbing to new heights as model for store chain

Helen Heraty is proof that it is never too late to get a break in the fashion industry.

The mother-of-seven has been chosen to star in an international advertising campaign for one of the biggest names on the high street, LK Bennett – at the age of 51.

Her image will appear in stores across the UK and as far afield as New York City, Washington and Paris, as well as in glossy fashion magazines.

Her photograph is also being used in LK Bennett's own brochures and on the company's website.

Mrs Heraty, who runs an exclusive hotel and tea rooms, Grays Court, in the shadow of York Minster, is one of four women selected to appear in the clothing chain's spring and summer publicity drive.

She said: "Like every school girl, I had a dream of becoming a model when I was a teenager, but it was always just that – something of a little fantasy that I would never have really admitted to.

"It was something so implausible, and seemed like a childhood whim. But to be given this opportunity is absolutely amazing, if a little surreal.

"And it definitely shows that there is life after you turn 50."

Mrs Heraty, who is a svelte size eight, was picked for the modelling assignment after staff at the LK Bennett store in York put her forward for the company's Life Is The Occasion campaign, which was launched for the 2010 autumn and winter collection.

She had to attend three casting sessions in London last summer before she received a phone call in the autumn to let her know she had been chosen out of the thousands of hopefuls.