A hunky soldier who served alongside Prince Harry in Afghanistan has said being crowned Mr England would be “massive” for the Army.
Lance Corporal Joyde Wilson, 24, hopes dozens of his workmates will cheer him on to win in the final of the UK’s biggest modelling competition later this year.
Joyde, who used to speak with the Royal as his team refuelled and armed his Apache helicopter in Camp Bastion, said: “Winning would be a huge asset for the Army – being a soldier and also being Mr England would be massive.
“From what I know I’m the first guy from the military to get into the finals.
“I think it’d also make me a role model to other men in the country.”
Joyde will compete against 30 other men for the Mr England title after being crowned Mr Suffolk in April.
He has been based at RAF Wattisham in Suffolk since he joined the Army aged 16 but did not tell his comrades he had entered the regional heats fearing he would come last.
“I thought I would keep it quiet in case I came last so I didn’t want to lose face,” he said.
But Joyde was surprised by his workmates’ support after the news of his win broke on social media.
“When I walked into work, as I walked into a room and they all gave me a round of applause,” he said.
“You get the normal banter you’d expect if you’re a soldier walking up and down a catwalk.
“It’s not expected as a soldier but I thought why not and everyone’s been really supportive right from the top to the bottom.
“If I win I’ll do a Mr England celebration night.”
Joyde hoped his Army training will “put him in good stead” as he planned to compete in the competition’s catwalk, sports, charity, talent and general knowledge rounds.
“It’s not just walking up and down a catwalk – you’ve got to be physically fit,” he said.
“There’s a fitness round – my Army training puts me in a good stead, fingers crossed.”
The soldier, who has raised £3,000 for ABF The Soldier’s Charity in go-karting races, will submit a video of his racing skills for the talent round.
“I suppose being a soldier makes me quite different – I think it brings something new and different to the competition,” he said.
“It’d be the first time I’d be walking down the catwalk but some of the guys have a bit more experience.
“I’ve been racing for close to ten years – not to blow my own trumpet but I’m quite good- I thought it would be quite different too.”
Joyde has served in three stints in Afghanistan as a member of the Apache ground crew.
He said he had “work-related” conversations with helicopter pilot Prince Harry at Camp Bastion while based there from September 2012 to January 2013.
“It was a massive honour for the squadron – to have the Royal with us, you cannot get better than that really,” he said.
“After a few weeks he was just another pilot. I spoke to him a few times but it was normal work-related talk.”
Joyde, who grew up in Nottingham, aims to £1,000 to help disadvantaged children through the competition’s charity, Beauty with a Purpose.
He planned to raise funds in sponsored marathons and said: “My upbringing wasn’t the best in the world but I’ve still achieved a lot considering.
“My mum was a single mum bringing up four kids on her own, nothing too hard but it’s to inspire kids that they can achieve anything, to aim higher, to try to be someone special.
“Winning would be huge, massive. I couldn’t even put it into words just thinking about it blows my mind.
“It’s more for the charity than it’s for me – you can’t have the title of Mr England for nothing, you’ve got to help people.”
He hoped 30 of his fellow soldiers will support at the event in Birmingham on July 14.
To keep up with his bid to become Mr England and support his fundraising see https://m.facebook.com/MrSuffolk/ and http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/MrSuffolk