WHEN it comes to designing a rhino, this Southampton youngster has charged to the top of the class.

Hundreds of youngsters across Hampshire dug out their felt-tip pens and paints to create colourful and imaginative designs for the Daily Echo’s very own rhino.

But it was nine-year-old Jessica Preston’s design, based around the essential tools of a newspaper reporter, that impressed the judges and saw her crowned the overall winner of the Go! Rhinos colouring competition.

With a red base colour, to represent the Daily Echo’s masthead, the Bitterne Junior School pupil decorated the rhino with images of notebooks, pens and cameras.

Now her artwork will be used as inspiration for the design of the Daily Echo’s mini rhino sculpture, which will join the herd of life-sized rhinos that will be popping up in the streets of Southampton this summer as part of Marwell Wildlife’s Go! Rhinos project.

Jessica, who wins a child and adult annual membership to Marwell, said: “I am very excited that my design won and I felt very proud when I found out.

“I did this design because I wanted to show what a reporter needs to do their job.”

Mum Rachel added: “I am very proud. She did put some thought into her design and she was keen to represent the reporter because they make the newspapers.”

Winning the 13 to 16 age category was Holly Pearce, 13, from Lordshill, whose intricate and detailed design caught the eye of the judges.

Kirstie Mathieson, from Marwell, added: “We are delighted that so many children across Hampshire jumped at the chance to get involved with the Go! Rhinos project.

“All the designs were bright, colourful and very creative, just like our life-sized sculptures will be when they hit the streets of Southampton this summer.

“Congratulations to Jessica, the overall winner, we loved her idea of decorating the rhino in all the traditional tools used by journalists to get their stories.”

The Go! Rhinos project will create a unique ten-week trail throughout the city for families and tourists to enjoy, starting in July.

The scheme is hoped to boost the local economy.