FENLANDER: How Jess is living life at the double

A JOB with FDC’s leisure team, a star role for a glossy magazine and training to be a pilot. Jess Lockhart combines them all - no problem.

JESS Lockhart isn’t one to take life easy. For the past four months, she has been doubling up – combining her job with Fenland District Council’s leisure team with a starring role as the “Face of ESP”, a glossy lifestyle magazine based in Peterborough. And, despite the hectic schedule, she’s loving it.

The 23-year-old – it was her birthday this week – has lived in Whittlesey all her life. She has worked at FDC’s Manor leisure centre there since she was 16, starting as a children’s activity leader, gradually progressing to become a lifeguard and fitness instructor and then relief duty manager.

In July she became part-time duty centre manager, based at the Hudson in Wisbech, where she works 22 hours a week. On top of that, she takes fitness classes, including Zumba, at all of Fenland’s three leisure centres, as well as giving some private lessons.

By the way, she’s also training to be a pilot – her ultimate ambition.

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Jess entered this year’s “Face of ESP” competition almost on a whim.

“I never even told my Mum and Dad at the time,” she says. “And I never, ever expected to win. It was a complete shock.”

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The final was held on September 10, where she took up the role. Since then she has been kept hard at it.

She has turned on Christmas lights in Spalding and at the Queensgate shopping centre in Peterborough; walked on hot coals in a charity fire walk; attended various charity balls, most recently the SnowBall at the East of England Showground; and done some modelling on the catwalk, also in Queensgate and at Thorpe Hall Hospice for the charity Sue Ryder Care.

Now she is about to take a well-earned break.

She said: “There wasn’t much on over Christmas and New Year and I’m just about to go on holiday skiing. When I get back, I’ll be starting 12 weeks’ training for a charity boxing match at the Holiday Inn in Thorpe Wood in March. It’s going to be a big event – they’ve sold about 400 tickets. It should be fun.”

Meanwhile, it’ll be back to the day job - and back to the Manor.

So what has it been like living a double life? “Brilliant,” she said. “I’ve got a great job and I’ve absolutely loved working with the ESP magazine.

“There’s not many girls who can say they’ve turned on the Christmas lights and lots of different things like that. It’s just a fantastic opportunity and everyone at the magazine has been so supportive – if there’s anything I want to do, they’ll back me and help me, so it’s really, really good.”

Sharon McAllister, ESP’s editor, says: “The competition isn’t a beauty pageant. We look for a girl with personality who represents the spirit of the magazine and has that magic something.

“Jess has proved she was the right choice from the start and has been doing us proud. She is fun, confident and enthusiastic and has thrown herself into everything.”

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