Poll winner loves chance to kick off steel caps and glam up
WHILE fashion poll winner Ashley Mitchell looked glamorous at the Gladstone races last Saturday, at work it's a different story.
Ashley, 26, works in the raw materials section at QAL, driving bulldozers, front end loaders and ship unloaders.
She loves dressing up for the races because it gives her a chance to show that being a woman in industry isn't just about steel caps and hard hats.
"Going to the races is a fantastic way for me to hang up my work clothes and hard hat and become a girl again," she said.
"I finished work at 6am on the day of the races and had about two hours sleep. I went to the hairdresser and was at the races by about 12pm. It was a fabulous day."
Ashley's dress was from online website asos.com in the United Kingdom.
"I chose it because it was a little bit different. I knew everybody would be in floral print because we're getting in to summer," she said.
Her fascinator was handmade by Daphne Pohle, of Fillies on Parade, Gladstone.
"She was amazing. I went in with two days to go and she helped me out," Ashley said.
The Observer's online poll, which offered the chance to vote for who was the best dressed at Saturday's Cox Plate race day, attracted 4779 votes, with Ashley winning 47%.
She said she had had plenty of support from friends, family and workmates during the online poll.
"There were pictures up around work which was a bit embarrassing, because it's millions of men and me," she said.
"I was getting messages from people I don't know saying they voted for me, which was amazing.
"If they had seen me after work with bauxite all over me it would be a different story!"
Ashley has worked at QAL for two years and been in Gladstone for four.
She worked as a hairdresser in England, then followed her family to Gladstone after they moved here seven years ago.
"There are great opportunities in Gladstone with so much industry, and it's not all just men," she said.
"I had the opportunity and I went for it.
"I didn't think I'd be able to drive the big machinery when I first saw it. But I had good training and a good crew."
Outside of work, Ashley loves to dress up.
"I really like fashion, and I like to be fashionable," she said.
"I like casual clothes, and I like to be a bit different.
"All the shops in Gladstone seem to have the same thing, so I go to Brisbane when I can and get the latest clothes.
"We need more shops in Gladstone. The town is booming and there's not enough to cater for everyone.
"There are more fashionable people in Gladstone than in Rockhampton, and they have better shops.
"We need to push for more shops."