A model bride - Eyerus Lee's journey from Ethiopia to Cheshire
There was a happy ending in Cheshire for a teenage girl who ran away from an arranged marriage in Ethiopia
As a runaway from an arranged marriage who went on to work for a Saudi princess before being talent spotted for a glamorous career as a fashion model, has seen her fair share of the world.
Today Eyerus - pronounced Yarris - is happily married and lives and works in Cheshire, but life did not always seem so rosy.
‘I come from a big family and was very happy until I reached the age of 15,’ said Eyerus, who was born in Ethiopia, not far from the capital Addis Ababa. ‘My father was very traditional and I was told I was going to be married. Arranged marriages were a tradition at the time but not for me.‘I gathered what little money I had and ran away. I headed east and ended up in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.’
The young runaway was befriended by a kindly Saudi woman who wanted to help her. She turned out to be a Saudi princess. ‘She took me into her home and gave me shelter,’ said Eyerus. ‘Eventually they gave me the job of nanny and I helped care for her children.’
When Eyerus met her first husband, a Brit who worked for Saudi Arabian Airlines, her adoptive family did not approve. So Eyerus went on the run again - this time accompanying her husband home to the UK.
While trying to find work, Eyerus was approached by a model agency representative, who offered her the chance to do a photo-shoot. She was snapped up by model agencies in Liverpool, London, the Middle East and Ethiopia and her photos began appearing on the pages of fashion magazines under her modelling name of Jery.
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Her marriage floundered after her husband's return to work in the Middle East and Eyerus decided to try to find an occupation which would fit-in with her duties as the mother of a young son, Benjamin.
She is now officially employed as a technical administrator with technology management company Arena Instrumentation, but in reality is an unofficial roving ambassador for the company.
‘Wherever I go I tell people about Arena and how wonderful it is as a company,’ said 33-year-old Eyerus from her desk at the Ellesmere Port HQ of the company.
‘I’m happy to tell people because people within this business helped me start my new life here in Cheshire. They gave me a chance of a new career and they sent me to college to brush up on my English. They have been so kind to me - it’s thanks to them I've been able to start a new life here.’
In April Eyerus married Dr Chris Lee whom she met in a Chester fast food restaurant. ‘Chris was having a quick bite to eat with his children,’ she said. ‘One of his children reminded me so much of my own son, who wasn’t with me at the time, that I had to apologise for keep looking at him. We got talking and found we had lots in common.
‘My wedding day was the happiest day of my life. All my friends were there.’
Eyerus’s MD at Arena, David Dawe, said: ‘It has been a pleasure to help Eyerus repatriate to the UK. She has brought a sense of calm reflection to the company and has demonstrated that, with the right attitude and determination, anything is possible - which is a perfect strategy for the business as a whole.’