A beauty queen has battled lupus and faced her fear of public speaking to chase her dream and be crowned Miss Hertfordshire 2015.
Kirstie Haysman, 27, from Hemel Hempstead, was handed the title after submitting a ‘last ditch’ entry, knowing she would be too old to do it next year with the age limit being 27.
The mum-of-one, who has just qualified as a foot health practitioner, said: “I have tried to break into the modelling industry for years, but I’ve always been declined having a ‘dated’ girl-next-door look.
“For as long as I can remember I have wanted to do pageants, raise money for great causes and have a platform to make a difference to our country, but I’ve been too frightened to get up and speak publicly.
“This year was the final year I could apply as I’ll be too old next year, so I thought I would brave it out, give it a shot and chase my dream because I wanted to make my daughter proud.”
Kirstie, who also works as a croupier at a casino in London’s Mayfair, chose to raise money for Lupus UK as part of her application as she, her sister and mother all suffer from the autoimmune condition.
She said: “Some days I find it a struggle to even get up as I’m crippled with arthritis, chronic fatigue and a rash that covers most of my face.
“But I wasn’t going to let this stand in my way – if anything it made me more driven to succeed.”
Kirstie, who is mum to three-year-old daughter Harriet, raised money for the charity by selling homemade cakes, as well as selling clothes on eBay and setting up a JustGiving page.
She will hold the title for a whole year and plans to continue raising money for Lupus UK as well as Great Ormond Street Hospital.