Roland Bunce could well be the Next top model ... so why is he so shy?
Roland Bunce is set to be the face of a high street fashion store ... but he's remarkably publicity shy.
As revealed by the Belfast Telegraph earlier this month, Roland Bunce from Bangor quickly became an unlikely hero in the Next Model 2011 competition, amassing thousands of votes which sent him soaring to the top spot within days of his photograph appearing on the competition's website.
Since then his success has been reported by numerous media outlets, and the wrestling fan and computer science graduate has retained his number one position, with thousands of fans getting behind the campaign to get him through to the final stages of the competition.
And thanks to the global nature of the internet, his profile has been boosted by votes from countries as far away as Brazil and New Zealand.
His competition profile has been 'liked' 56,000 times on Facebook, with a fan page on the social networking site listed as having 2,898 members.
But the Bangor man is shying away from the publicity his rise to fame has brought him, increasing the privacy settings on his personal Facebook page and not issuing any statements since he thanked fans two weeks ago for the support they had given him.
He has also ignored numerous requests from journalists to speak to him.
Despite this, the fan page 'Roland Bunce to win Next Model 2011' is filled with messages of support for the 24-year-old.
Many view his success as a blow to the fashion industry's narrow definition of beauty, and are using the slogan "a vote for Roland is a vote for reality".
Fans have posted messages branding him a "hero" and "everything I aspire to be in life", with one calling for him to take over from David Cameron as Prime Minister.
One fan, Callum Johnson, wrote: "Roland has my vote. Many people would shy away from entering, being scared of what others may think, but he had the confidence to go ahead and enter. This guy deserves to win."
The online competition will see voters choose 250 hopefuls from the thousands of entrants to make it through to the bootcamp stage. From there, Next judges will choose 50 to go to the grand final in London on July 30. Two lucky winners will receive a £2,000 shopping spree at Next and an introduction to a top modelling agency. Voting closes on June 30.
Story so far
When Roland Bunce entered Next's model competition, he may not have had the highest hopes. The 24-year-old computing science graduate is perhaps not what might be considered classically handsome, yet thanks to his confident smile and kindly visage - and tens of thousands of social media users - he is now the most voted-for entrant.
Next Media Animation Limited's Roland Bunce YouTube video