Neelam Gill was ''not a cute kid''.

The 22-year-old model admitted she never expected to embark on a catwalk career when she was younger, and she thinks she owes her success to Burberry's creative director Christopher Bailey.

She said: ''My life wouldn't be what it is now without Christopher Bailey.

''I'm from Coventry and never thought I'd be a model. I had glasses and braces - I was not a cute kid.

''But as I got older and started to wear contact lenses, I got scouted.

''Then at 18 I got a call from my agency saying, 'Burberry wants to see you'.

''I booked a train ticket and got my nails done in hot pink.

''And with my hair past my arse, I met Christopher. He liked that I Was from Coventry and had no clue. He booked me as an exclusive for the show.''

When she was younger, Neelam was disheartened by the fact she never saw Indian models, so hopes her own success can inspire those with a similar heritage.

She told Britain's ELLE magazine: ''I hated my skin colour because I thought being lighter was what was beautiful.

''I feel so happy that my sisters don't have to go through that.

''It's what I feel most proud of in modelling, that it's having an impact on other people in a positive way.''

And Neelam's career wouldn't mean anything to her if it didn't give her the position to help others.

She said: ''I love my job being a model but I also love knowing that I can help others.

''I don't think I'd enjoy modelling if I couldn't do things on the side, such as charity work.

''You do have such a big platform to influence as a model, so what's the point of just being silent?''