Carradale’s own international model honoured at exhibition

Emma-Jane Ritchie at last Thursday's launch of the Campbeltown Picture House exhibition celebrating her modelling career.

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A former international model who spent the first six years of her life in Carradale is the first person to be honoured by a new project celebrating the success of Kintyre people.

Emma-Jane Ritchie, 48, graced catwalks and posed for photographers at shoots around the world during her glittering 10-year career which began by chance.

She was approached by a modelling scout while she was 15 years old and working as a dish-washer at a restaurant in New Zealand, the country to which her parents emigrated when she was a child.

Emma-Jane was asked if she would be interested in doing some modelling work and, after initially laughing off the suggestion, was encouraged by a friend to find out more and began doing some work while still at school.

‘I realised that I could make more money doing one modelling job every six months than I could washing dishes every night,’ Emma-Jane told the Courier.

While she was still 15, she was entered into a worldwide competition run by John Casablancas’ Elite Model Management and won for her adopted homeland of New Zealand.

‘I was very young and not very interested in the whole thing,’ Emma-Jane said. ‘I was offered a contract in Paris but I said no as I wanted to go back to school.’

Six months later, she was entered into and won another worldwide competition, this time run by renowned Ford Models of New York, travelling to Los Angeles for the finals.

When she was offered a contract in Tokyo, Emma-Jane decided it was time to choose between school and modelling and she chose the latter.

‘I worked everywhere – in every major city in the world,’ she said. ‘I was still one of the youngest models on the scene and I only started to really enjoy it when I turned 18.’

Emma-Jane walked the runway in Paris, Milan, London and Tokyo, among others, and became a familiar face in fashion and lifestyle magazines and catalogues, with articles about her success appearing in international newspapers.

She met her husband, aspiring South African athlete Francois Roux, in Germany, where he was also doing a bit of modelling.

The couple married and their elder daughter, Kwasi, now 26, was born soon after.

When Francois suggested living at his family farm in Karoo, South Africa, Emma-Jane decided that it would be nice to settle down, having lived out of hotels and other people’s apartments for a decade.

The family spent two years on the farm before moving to Cape Town in time for Kwasi to start school.

Shortly afterwards, the couple’s younger daughter, Rosemary, now 21, and son, Jack, 17, were born.

Recently Emma-Jane bought her grandmother Charlotte’s old Carradale home, Kenmore. The house was built for Emma-Jane’s great-grandmother so it is important to her that it remains in the family, and it will be used for trips back to the village.

Charlotte, known in Carradale as Chattie, is now 98 and moved to New Zealand 10 years ago.

Last Thursday night, an exhibition celebrating Emma-Jane’s career was launched at Campbeltown Picture House, to spearhead a project called Kintyre Connections, honouring people who have lived or live in Kintyre who inspire others.

Another celebration paying tribute to Emma-Jane and other inspirational Carradale figures was held last Saturday evening in Carradale Village Hall as part of the project.

While in Kintyre, Emma-Jane revealed that she has recently become the proposed honorary consul for New Zealand in South Africa, proving that she is not just a pretty face.

Emma-Jane’s mother, Susan, travelled all the way from New Zealand to attend both events with her daughter.

Susan, originally from Glasgow, worked as a district nurse when the family lived in Carradale, while Emma-Jane’s father, Duncan, was a fisherman.

For more on the Kintyre Connections project and last week’s events, see next week’s Courier.

Emma-Jane Ritchie at last Thursday’s launch of the Campbeltown Picture House exhibition celebrating her modelling career. KC_c27emmajane01 or KC_c27emmajane02

Emma has recently bought the Carradale home which belonged to her grandmother, Chattie, who now lives in New Zealand. NO_c27chattie01