THE only way to celebrate her 21st was for Carly Douglas to go to Essex in the search for her favourite TV stars.
Carly decided last year that she wanted to take a trip down south for her big day in the hope she would meet some of the cast from The Only Way is Essex.
And she was in luck as she met and was snapped with Harry Derbidge and Lucy Mecklenburgh - both stars of the ITV2 show - and former cast member Amy Childs.
To cap off the “perfect” way to spend her birthday, former Brierton Comprehensive School student Carly celebrated her 21st birthday with a night out at Sugar Hut nightclub, the regular hangout for the show’s cast.
“It was definitely the best way to celebrate my birthday,” said Carly, who works at Home Bargains, in the town, and also at Liniques X salon, in Hartlepool’s Jesmond Road.
“It was amazing, I never miss an episode of TOWIE so I decided I wanted to go to Essex for my birthday and it didn’t disappoint.
“And I only spent £30 because everyone was buying my drinks with it being my birthday.”
Carly admits the highlight of her trip was meeting the cast of her favourite show when she visited the shops they own in Essex with her best friend, Gemma Claydon - although she says she did get a bit starstruck.
“I couldn’t talk at first, I was shaking because I was so nervous when I got to meet them,” said Carly, who lives in Sitwell Walk, in Hartlepool, with her parents, Dwane, 46, and Jackie, 50, and her younger brother, Ryan, 18.
“Amy was friendly but she was quite shy and Lucy and Harry were really nice, they were so friendly.
“The main one I wanted to meet was Joey Essex, he’s my favourite, but he had just got back from his holidays apparently when we were there so we didn’t get the chance to meet him, but that didn’t spoil it at all.
“Sugar Hut was amazing as well, I’ve seen it that many times on the show on the television so it was good to actually go there, it was just the perfect way to celebrate my birthday.”
Carly was joined by around 20 of her pals for her overnight trip to Essex, which she says she will remember fondly for a long time to come.
The group also took the time to be pictured with our Proud to be a Poolie poster, which featured in the Mail earlier this month.