A student who was left completely deaf after catching meningitis as a three-year-old girl has overcome the odds – to become a beauty queen champion.
Siobhan Brindley, 27, made history as being the world’s first deaf beauty contestant when she walked down the catwalk in 2008.
But last month she scooped her first major prize and reached the national final of a prestigious competition after being crowned Miss Quinton Galaxy.
The photography student said she always refused to let her disability hold her back and she has even overcome a weight problem when she tipped the scales at a hefty 14 stone.
She shed five stone after piling on the pounds from gorging on junk food while studying beauty therapy at university six years ago.
Now Siobhan will be relying on gran Lorna, 63, to be by her side to interpret using sign language when she competes in the Miss Galaxy final next month.
She plans to wow the judges wearing a bikini and evening gown before answering questions about her life ambitions at the Park Hall Hotel, in Preston, Lancs.
The winner will receive an all expenses paid trip to the Miss Galaxy International final in Florida in August to represent Great Britain.
Yesterday (Mon) Siobhan, from Quinton, in Birmingham, said: “As a child I always watched Miss World on the TV and over the years I would think, ‘why are they all so perfect?’
“I decided to enter the contest to show that having a disability should not stop you doing anything.
“I have never let my hearing problem stop me from doing what I have wanted to do. I feel I deserve this opportunity.
“In 2008, I made history as the first deaf person to enter a mainstream beauty contest when I competed at Miss Universe GB and Miss England.
“I believe taking part in the events has given her confidence and empowered her to become a stronger woman.
“Contestants with disabilities are given equal opportunities and treated fairly and I feel just as welcome as everyone else.
“In 2012, I finished in the top 10 of Miss Galaxy, and I felt my major weakness was the interview, as I had to speak on the stage without an interpreter.
“This was a very tough situation but I tried my best and learned from the experience.
“But after winning Miss Quinton Galaxy I feel very positive and I’m sure this time will be lucky for me.
“It is a great achievement and winning Miss Galaxy England would be the result of my hard work and being thankful for who I am.
“I can’t say I expect to win, but I do have a good feeling about it.
“I just want to encourage other deaf girls to follow their dream and not be held back.”
Siobhan said she decided to go into modelling after she struggled to get a job after graduating from university where she also ballooned to a size 16.
She added: “When I was at university I was so depressed at getting up at 6am every day and enduring a two-hour bus journey to and from campus I comfort ate and went up to 14 stone.
“That was way too much as I’m only 5ft 6ins. So when I graduated I was determined to lose it.
“I didn’t bother with joining a slimming club as I don’t believe in them.
“Instead I ate healthily and sensibly, did loads of exercise, and within eight months was down to 9st 6ins and a size 8.”
Siobhan was just three when she cheated death after contacting the killer brain bug and at seven she had a cochlear implant hearing aid fitted.
Despite her disability she went to mainstream schools and then to Walsall College to begin her training as a beauty therapist.
She completed her beauty training with a degree from the University of Derby, which involved living away from home.
But she is now studying photography at Birmingham Metropolitan College but still hopes to become a full-time model.
Mum Lorna, a retied nurse, said: “We are very proud of her achievements – she had faced adversity from a young age and has overcome her difficulties so bravely.
“She deserves all the success in the world.”