You can be a model... but give me £250 first!

A YOUNGSTER'S birthday was ruined when her hopes of a modelling career were shatteredafter a photo shoot descended into chaos.

Ellie Williams was treated to a trip to a model test shoot for her ninth birthday on Sunday.

She had spent hours getting ready, with her hair being delicately put in pretty barrel curls and ringlets, and had dressed in her favourite outfit.

But on arrival, Ellie and her parents, Ann, 33 and Christopher, 32, were told that the event was off following complaints that the company holding the sessions, Elite Management, was demanding 250 before taking any shots.

The company was asking for the charge to be paid up front before any progress could be made.

Ann, also full-time mum to six-year-old Kian, had travelled to the event withmother-in-law Linda Williams and sister-in-law Chiara Williams, last year's Mail Bride of the Year.

Ann said: "It was a nightmare. Everyone had told me my daughter should be a model. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity."

She added that when she got there, people were being redirected from the original venue, Sunderland's Roker Hotel, to the nearby Pullman's Lodge Hotel.

Ann added: "There was a woman standing there giving things out to read. It said free photo shoot and photo and if you were successful in being picked there would be a 250 charge.

"We thought if we were successful they would let us know at a later date and pay then.

"We were number 51 in the queue. The numbers were going down quite quickly, but when it got to number 37, a hotel security guard said 'the event's over, everybody out'

"A few people we asked said they were asking for the 250 there and then before they could go any further."

Ann said the whole episode had upset her daughter, who said she had "wasted her birthday".

"There were people going out crying their eyes out, there were at least 600 people there," added Ann.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said officers attended the event but purely for crowd control.

Tom Terret, City of Sunderland Council's trading standards and licensing manager, said: "If the public have any concerns about a commercial transaction or promotional event they can call us on (0191) 5531717."

No one from Elite Management was available for comment