A fundraising teenager who overcame school bullies could be crowned Miss Teen Great Britain after beating hundreds of hopefuls to reach the final of the national pageant.
Ellie Nottingham (17) from Kippax has raised almost £2,000 for Together for Short Lives, a leading UK charity for children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, on her way to the final of the competition at The Globe in Blackpool later this year.
And after years of torment, the already crowned Miss Teen Leeds says that becoming a finalist on a national scale feels even sweeter.
She told the YEP: “I was really badly bullied throughout my time at high school which had a massive effect on my confidence and my overall education. This happened daily.
“I would be followed around at school and called names such as ugly and disgusting as well as being told to just go home and kill myself.
“I did everything I could possibly think of in order to prevent my parents from sending me to school. I did not have any friends, which meant I would sit in the schools toilet cubicles throughout break and lunches.
“I want to use my title as Miss Teen Leeds to raise awareness of bullying and to be an example that bullies do not define who you are or what you will achieve.
“I’m going to take time to support children and young adults in my community who have experienced the same trauma I did throughout High School and be a person they can approach for support and advice.”
The drama and media A-Level student will travel to the seaside resort in October to compete in the final of the pageant after impressing judges at the semi-final stage with a written questionnaire and her charity work.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 23, with a bumper prize of £1000, jewellery, clothing vouchers and beauty treatments up for grabs.
The judges take into account the finalists’ personalities and charity work among other things before deciding their winner, and Ellie’s first pageant has given her the bug for more contests in the future.
“This will be the first pageant that I have competed in so everything is very new and exciting,” said Ellie.
“So far, I have gained so much confidence through competing and have fallen in love with the process. I can not wait to enter more.”
Ellie will be up against around 50 other 16-19 year olds hoping to be crowned Miss Teen Great Britain, and her run to the final has helped give the youngster a much-needed confidence boost.
She said:”I can not put into words how happy I am to have made it into the final of Miss Teen Great Britain and to have won the title Miss Teen Leeds.
“This is something I have wanted for months and I was determined to do everything in my power to win a pace in the final.
“However, this would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Rodley Interiors sponsoring me and giving me the chance to go through to the final.
“Competing in miss teen Great Britain has made me gain back the confidence that was stolen from me in high school.
“It has given me the confidence boost I needed to start believing in myself again. I am now the happiest I have ever been, I am surrounded by a new group of friends and I absolutely love and look forward to going to sixth form.
“I have also grown to love myself and accept that what my peers said to me during high school does not define who I am, or what I will achieve.”
And now, Ellie is hoping to use her experiences to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.
She added: “I hope to take my negative experience and use it to change the lives of others who have been treated the same way I was during secondary school.”