SHE learnt the ropes backstage at Clacton's West Cliff Theatre - now Gemma Friel is about to be centre stage at the Winter Olympics.

Thrilled Gemma, 21, was headhunted by Games organisers in Russia after taking part in London 2012.

Her experience landed her a role as stage manager during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Paralympics in Sochi.

A gagging order means she has to stay tight-lipped about the top-secret spectaculars.

Gemma said: "I can’t say anything about the performance - but it's going to be amazing!

"I am incredibly lucky to be apart of such an amazing experience, twice!

Gemma headed out to chilly Russia last week.

"My Russian colleagues often laugh at me when I go out wrapped up in my big coat, thermals and gloves .. because for them this is warm!" she said.