Mail reporter Elinor O’Neill interviews X Factor’s latest singing sensation - Gartree Prison officer Sam Bailey.
When rising star Sam Bailey is on her lunch break from working at Gartree Prison, she often likes to visit Harborough, pick up a bite to eat and sit in the memorial gardens.
But, The X Factor contestant who wowed viewers and the judges last weekend will have little chance of calm contemplation now after being tipped to win the hit talent show.
Since taking the first episode by storm, Sam said she was mobbed in the playground when she did the morning school run in Leicester.
Speaking to the Mail about her sudden rise to fame, she said her husband gets recognised at the petrol station in the early hours of the morning and is given hand shakes and warm wishes from strangers.
Sam herself went to the supermarket accompanied by a friend for support after taking a trip to the newsagents and being called and beeped at by those that recognise her suddenly famous face.
She has worked as a prison officer at Gartree for three years and said that the prison service have been very supportive.
At the moment she is on holiday from work but colleagues say fellow staff and the prisoners have all been talking about her show-stopping audition .
She said: “I didn’t go around singing all the time at the prison. People just knew that I could sing.
“I told people there that I had gone in for the competition because they would have heard it or seen it.
“There has been quite a lot of excitement at the prison from what I have been told, it has kept people in good spirits.”
Sam, of Leicester Forest East, said she loves Harborough and wishes she could afford to live here.
She said: “I know that if I get through to the next stage it means that I might be able to sing for a living.
“I seem to have a following from people like me; people who want the best for their kids. If I can be an inspiration to somebody else, then I’m all for it.
“All I want to do is sing and be on stage.”
Sam is creating a scrapbook from newspaper articles and joked that it was so she can look back on her time on the X Factor when it was all over and she was working back at the prison.
She is originally from London and moved to Leicestershire 13 years ago. She has a little girl who is eight and a boy who is four.
She said: “In 20 years all I have ever wanted is to have recognition, to have some one respected in the business to say you’re good, you deserve to be here.
“That first audition was where I got that recognition.”
Speaking about the possibility of getting through to the next stage, Sam said she would be happy to work with any of the mentors, although she has is a big Take That fan and also sees Sharon Osbourne as an inspirational woman.
She said: “If Sharon was my mentor it would be awesome as she has the same values as I do in being a mother and protector to her children.
“I think I could learn a lot from her. I have read her book and she is such a strong woman and absolutely hilarious.
“I’d be over the moon if she was my mentor.”
She said her job at Gartree has left her little time for her singing as she has been dedicated to her work.
Sam said: “I would love to do big concerts but at the moment I’m just taking every day as it comes.
“I’d love to be in the live shows as you get all ‘glammed up’ and that’s not me, so I’m excited.”