A student who was picked on for being an overweight teenager has beat the bullies after slimming down to become a cheerleading coach and Miss England contestant.

Sophie McGarva, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire was mocked by cruel classmates at just 13-year-old after she reached 14 stone during secondary school by gorging on junk food and snacks.  

She suffered from low self-esteem but became determined to "prove everyone wrong" and went on to lose three-and-a-half stone to become a part-time model.

The Northern Echo: Sophie McGarva was mocked by cruel classmates at just 13-years-old.Sophie McGarva was mocked by cruel classmates at just 13-years-old. (Image: SWNS)

Sophie is now in the running to be crowned the next Miss England after reaching the competition's semi-finals which take place this weekend. 

The English Literature degree student now keeps in shape by coaching cheerleading for the 'YSJ Kats' at York St John University and going the gym three times a week. 

Sophie, 21, said: "The issues with my weight first started once I got to secondary school. 

The Northern Echo: Sophie is studying English Literature at university.Sophie is studying English Literature at university. (Image: SWNS)

"I wasn't very sporty then and I was eating a lot of bad food, like chocolates and sweets, and just the kind of thing most kids like really.

"But at that point you start to become a bit more image aware and the girls around me were all really slim, too thin really, and started wanting the attention of boys.

"I was never too concerned but then a few girls started picking on me because of my size and saying mean and horrible things. 

"I was around 13/14 stone at the time. They would just call me any name you associate with larger people. Everything and anything really.  

The Northern Echo: Sophie says she became determined to prove her bullies wrong.Sophie says she became determined to prove her bullies wrong. (Image: SWNS)

"I even reported it to teachers at one point but it was sort of brushed under the carpet, which didn't help matters.

"After about a year of this, I knew it was time for a change and I became determined to prove everyone wrong. 

"I also wanted to prove to myself that if I put my mind to something I could do it. So I began watching my diet and exercising more. 

"I started getting into dance, swimming and ice-skating and I lost about three and a half stone. 

The Northern Echo: Sophie McGarva.Sophie McGarva. (Image: SWNS)

"I have maintained this determined, strong-willed mindset in my adulthood and I still go to the gym around three to four times a week.

"Once I got to university I wanted to join a society as they say that's the best way to meet people. 

"I chose cheerleading and it just went from there. I now choreograph routines and teach up to a level two standard. 

"We're not competitive, we're a varsity squad so do events and cheer on the football teams and things like that. I absolutely love it."

Cheerleading gave Sophie the confidence to model on four occasions at York Fashion Week giving her the belief to become a beauty queen.  

The Northern Echo: Sophie was picked on at secondary school.Sophie was picked on at secondary school. (Image: SWNS)

She added: "I entered Miss England after seeing it publicised on social media, thinking I wouldn't stand a chance.

"Then I found out they had put me through to the semis, which I'm really excited for this weekend.

"I like the charity aspect and what they stand for about beauty not being solely about what's on the outside. 
"At school I was a young and impressionable girl who was taught by those around me that beauty was merely the reflection in the mirror, which after the weight loss I came to the realisation that this is not entirely true. 

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"I entered Miss England to challenge myself again years later in aims of gaining confidence within myself and to also make my younger self proud. 

"I wanted to gain a deeper connection with myself and those around me, proving to myself that I can succeed in things outside my comfort zone." 

Sophie will be taking part in the Miss England semi final at Viva Blackpool on Sunday (7/4).

She is one of 44 women hoping to make it through to the Miss England national final sponsored by Waterman's Hair in May.