A MUM who was told by doctors she would never walk has made her debut as a catwalk model after winning a Belper News makeover competition.
Emily Ryde was the star of the show at a pampering evening held at Shottle Hall, near Belper – on the day of her 24th birthday.
The mum of one was born with spina bifida and scoliosis. While she was still a child, she underwent a seven-and-a-half-hour operation to straighten her spine, followed by a series of further operations to lengthen her legs, one of which was five inches shorter than the other.
The Shottle Hall competition invited people to contact the News to nominate someone they thought deserved a day of pampering and a makeover – and Emily was chosen after her mum, Judith, wrote in on her behalf.
One week on, Emily was on a catwalk with professional models being watched by more than 70 people.
Emily, mum to two-year-old Jamie, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I found out I’d won. I never thought I stood a chance. I had a really lovely day.
“I have spent a lot of my life in hospital, but you just deal with it. I’m lucky in lots of other ways and try really hard not to moan.
“I was brought up to believe that there is no such word as ‘can’t’. Doctors said I would never walk, but I proved them wrong. I would really like to give people hope that you can do anything you set your mind to.
“I was born with a 45-degree curvature of the spine and one of my legs was bent across my stomach. I was so badly curved that if I swam I went round in circles.
“I never dreamed I would end up walking down a catwalk. And although all the other models were much taller than me – and I was incredibly nervous – I just loved it.”
Emily’s day saw her pampered at Brackendale Spa, in Carsington, before having her hair done and make-up professionally applied.
Emily, who works as a dog trainer, added: “Although I was really nervous before I walked down the catwalk, I knew it was a once in a lifetime moment. I felt like a new person.
Emily’s mum and dad Judith and David were filled with pride as they watched their daughter on the catwalk.
Judith, 60, said: “Emily is a daughter in a million who has endured a lot of surgery throughout her life and never, ever complains.
“She rarely has time to go out and enjoy herself and she really, really deserved this special treat.”
Shottle Hall marketing manager James Davis said: “I think all the ladies who joined us for the pampering evening were amazed by Emily’s courage. Walking down a catwalk is a daunting prospect for anyone and Emily was an absolute star.”