A BEAUTY pageant winner who has raised thousands for charity is on a mission to prove that disability is no barrier to following your dreams.

Amber Killey, 24, was diagnosed with the rare genetic connective tissue disorder Ehlers Danlos Syndrome when she was 20, after suffering with symptoms from the age of just 13.

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There are 13 types of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and its symptoms depend on the individual, making it difficult to diagnose.

Amber said it was a ‘very long and stressful process’ to finally get to the point of diagnosis and the root of her pain, but after a year of managing her condition she found she had a passion - and a talent - for beauty pageantry.

The mum-of-one from Catterick Garrison came second in Miss North Yorkshire 2020 and finished in the top six at the national pageant of Supermodel England 2021.

The Northern Echo: Amber won the Supermodel England Miss Charity title for her Zoe's Place fundraisingAmber won the Supermodel England Miss Charity title for her Zoe's Place fundraising

She won the Supermodel England Miss Charity title for raising over £1,400 for Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice that year and is entering this summer’s Top Model North Yorkshire competition – formerly Miss North Yorkshire – whilst continuing to raise funds for the Middlesbrough hospice.

Her ambition is to become the first mum and disabled woman to win the illustrious pageant.

She said: “I want to prove to everyone that even if you have a more difficult and longer journey than others due to a disability, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach your goals.

“Our disabilities do not define us; we just have to find alternative ways of doing things.

“Being a mother also comes with that prejudice of people assuming you have lost your identity as a woman and can’t possibly have any hobbies or time to yourself, which is a very outdated view of motherhood.

The Northern Echo: Amber has collected a raft of prizes for a raffle in aid of Zoe's Place Baby HospiceAmber has collected a raft of prizes for a raffle in aid of Zoe's Place Baby Hospice

“It’s extremely important to still follow your dreams and keep your passions alive once you become a mother and I’m very proud of myself for all I’ve achieved whilst raising my son and learning to live with a disability.”

Amber said she has met lifelong friends through competing in beauty pageants and has now raised almost £3,000 for Zoe’s Place so far.

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She said: “There is quite a lot of work involved in them but also a lot of fun.

“They aren’t like the old-fashioned ones, they are just a nice thing for everyone to come together and do and they are empowering.”

As part of her current title bid, Amber has organised a raffle for Zoe’s Place with some top prizes including a midweek overnight stay for two with dinner and breakfast at Middleton Lodge Estate, a bungee jump experience and a vast array of vouchers and designer cosmetics.

The raffle, which is held online, costs £1 per ticket and will be drawn this Sunday, April 3, with all funds going to Zoe’s Place.

All the details to enter can be found here on facebook.

The Top Model North Yorkshire final takes place in Middlesbrough on June 24.

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