JUST over a year ago former Chippenham schoolgirl Gabrielle Aplin was spending her time writing her own songs and hoping for a full-time career in music.

Her big break came when she auditioned to sing the song to accompany the John Lewis Christmas advertisement and was suddenly catapulted to number one in the charts with The Power of Love.

Since then she has hardly had the chance to visit her family home in Sutton Benger near Chippenham as she has been travelling the world performing.

Gabrielle, 21, pictured, said: “I have just got back from Japan, which was amazing. The feel at the concerts there is quite different to the UK. They take their music very seriously and all seem to really understand it. After Britain it is my favourite place in the world.”

The trip to Asia followed two months of sell-out concerts in the UK during October and November. After the success of her first single, which provided the poignant soundtrack for a snowman trekking to find the perfect present for his snow wife, her debut album English Rain went gold and got to number two in the charts. She followed this with hits with Please Don’t Say You Love Me and Panic Cord.

She was also in demand for festivals and sang at Glastonbury, V, T In The Park, Camp Bestival, iTunes and the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park. She said: “Glastonbury was probably my favourite as it is an iconic festival and not far from where I grew up.”

She said her music was always supported by her parents Lisa and Chris and sister Anna, 18, but they did not push her. She said: “They just wanted me to be happy and now I am loving doing this they are really pleased.”

She has released a new single Salvation and this gave her yet another new experience, as she was heavily involved with creating the accompanying video.

She said: “It has been a very busy and slightly crazy year, but I am grateful to have had so many fantastic experiences. I have also just moved into a new place in London and I have my own piano so I am planning on spending the first few months of 2014 writing and recording. I have got so many ideas in my head for material.”

Gabrielle, who was a student at Sheldon School, Chippenham and Bath College, started writing songs when she was 14.

When she was 17 she made her first song Ghost into the title track of an EP and set up her own label Never Fade Records. She started touring the UK, playing at small venues and then released two more EPs.

At 19 she was signed by Parlophone and the John Lewis contract followed. She said: “I had always loved the John Lewis advertisements and so it was great to sing the song.”