KATIE Meehan is a confident, intelligent, articulate young woman.

The 22-year-old from South Tyneside runs a successful beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog and is rapidly making a name for herself in social media circles.

The last time I saw her, Katie was a little girl of four undergoing a series of traumatic facial surgeries.

She was born with cystic hygroma, a rare condition causing her face and tongue to swell up and her mouth to fill with cysts.

As health reporter for the Shields Gazette, I was asked to run a campaign to help raise enough money to pay for expensive surgery.

Katie captured the public’s imagination and, eventually, some £60,000 was raised, enough to pay for world-renowned surgeon Professor Ian Jackson to perform the life-changing operations she so desperately needed.

It’s the proudest achievement of my career and now, listening to Katie tell me about her life and hopes, I’m proud all over again.

“Make-up makes me happy,” she tells me. “For me it’s an artistic outlet. I look forward to doing it every morning and expressing myself through it. It’s just fun and it doesn’t go deeper than that.”

Taking her passion forward, she established a website talking about the things that she loves – make-up, beauty and fashion – with help from Gateshead College, where she was studying business management.

And it took off. Companies started asking if she would feature their products in return for promotion, she got 10,000 views in the first year and has now had about a million. Monthly, she now gets up to 6,000 views.

Her success has opened doors. She made a video for BBC Three on her relationship with make-up and took part in a mass skinny dip for a feature on body confidence.

She’s not sure what the future holds. She may set up a YouTube channel, perhaps run workshops for small companies on how to build social media, she’d like to do more charity work or maybe develop her love for photography. The world is her oyster.

“I don’t want to be known as the girl with the facial disfigurement, I want to be known as the girl who overcame a facial disfigurement,” says Katie.

“I always think that being born with this condition is the best thing that ever happened to me. All my life everyone has been telling me how brave and beautiful I am and how I can go and do what I like.

“It just makes you feel you can do anything and without it I would not be sat here without the motivation and drive and passion to do it.

“ I feel that my success, my dreams and doing everything I want to do is the best way I can say thank you to everyone who raised money for me.”

Katie has come a long way since the bubbly little girl I knew and has had some help along the way – but in truth, she’s done it herself.