When Bobby Mutasa looked in the mirror she hated the face she saw staring back.
Painful memories of the fire that killed her five-year-old cousin were burned on to her memory and on to her skin.
Bobby was just eight when she and her cousin were trapped in the back of a burning car.
After being dragged from the wreckage she needed three separate skin grafts as surgeons fought to save her life.
It left her with huge scars across the right side of her face, body and arms. Those scars haunted her for 17 years.
Bobby, now 25, buried the pain deep inside and did not reveal the tragic secret behind her injuries to her friends and even her boyfriend, Walter Muruza.
But she finally plucked up the courage to recall what happened and accept her scars as part of who she is.
And she says it was finding love with Walter, 29, that gave her the confidence.
Bobby, from Milton Keynes, says: “As soon as I started talking about it I felt a release.
“I was so young when it happened and didn’t understand how much my burns would impact on the rest of my life.
“If I’d known what I would have to deal with as an adult, I’m not sure I’d have kept going.
“But now I am happier than ever.
“Since meeting Walter and coming clean about my past, my insecurities have washed away and I have learned to love every little bit of myself.”
Bobby and her cousin, Tafadzwa Mahor, were in the back seat of the car as her father drove back from a petrol station in Zimbabwe in 1998.
In a moment of madness, a friend of her dad’s, sitting in the passenger seat with an open can of petrol on his lap, lit a cigarette and the can instantly burst into flames.
Panicking, he tossed it behind him and jumped from the car, escaping with only minor burns.
Bobby’s father Nagonidze, now a 52-year-old mental health nurse, also escaped.
But the children were trapped inside as the car was engulfed in flames.
Her last memory of that day is being pulled clear and driven to hospital as she screamed in agony.
When she woke up in hospital she was blind and it was three weeks before she saw again.
During that time she was told the heartbreaking news that her cousin had not survived.
She says: “I’m lucky it happened when I was so young. Because my skin was still growing, my recovery was much quicker.
“But I was still scared to look in the mirror. Although I was only a child, I knew I was different from the other kids at school and I hid myself away.”
After three months in hospital in the capital, Harare, she was discharged with pressure bandages on her face and arm.
“I remember being really excited to go home and be with my family,” she says.
“But my little sister took one look at me and ran away in tears. It was devastating that my own sister saw me as a monster.”
Two years later the family moved to Britain hoping they could make a fresh start and find a better life.
“It was my dad’s idea to move,” Bobby recalls.
“I think he just wanted to get away from it all. He wanted more for us.”
Settling in was even more difficult because other children taunted Bobby about her looks.
Although her scars were a lot less ugly after she underwent extensive surgery, they were still easy to spot and parts of her head were bald.
“Growing up and high school was just awful,” she says.
“No one understood what I had been through and I was treated so badly by the other kids.
“So I became the bully so that others wouldn’t pick on me.”
Although strangers would stop her in the street and ask what had happened, she always shrugged off their questions.
After school she became a student nurse and, at 22, she discovered that by experimenting with make-up she could hide her scars beneath a thick layer of foundation.
“I saw other girls my age slapping on the make-up and I wanted to be like them, to be normal,” she says.
“Now, I spend about an hour every day putting on my make-up before I go out.
“And for years I would avoid wearing backless dresses so that strangers wouldn’t see the scars on my back.
“The accident left me with a huge bald patch on the right side of my head.
“I wouldn’t be seen dead outside the house without my wig on because of that. I refuse to go out bald.”
It was after she met Walter, a computer scientist, at her local church in December 2013, that Bobby’s worries about her looks began to fade.
They were friends for a year before they started dating, but she fell head over heels in love after he whisked her away on a romantic weekend.
“In the beginning Walter would always pick me up from my house so I would already be ready,” she recalls.
“I spent a long time putting my make-up on and dressing up because I wanted to look nice and feel confident.
“As time has gone on, he has obviously seen me without make-up.
“But he never batted an eyelid. The only thing I would never let him see me without is my wig.”
Yet still she never told him how she got her scars.
“Oddly, Walter never once asked me what had happened,” she says.
“He never even mentioned my scars. I guess when we first met he was trying to be respectful by not asking me.
“Then after a while I didn’t try hiding them because after all, they are a part of me.
“It’s funny that strangers have no problem walking up to me and asking why I look the way I do, but my boyfriend and closest friends had no idea what I’d been through.”
“In a way, I wanted to get it off my chest and I would have liked Walter to understand what had happened to me.
“It’s better for people to know rather than their imaginations running wild with different theories.”
Bobby finally shared her secret when her cousin asked if she could make a short film about her scars for a film project this March.
She jumped at the opportunity.
“She was asked to make a movie about someone who inspires her and she picked me,” says Bobby proudly.
“I was really touched. I found talking openly and honestly on a video a lot easier than bringing up the subject in person.
“Watching spokeswomen like Katie Piper being so vocal about living with scars really helped.
“What she’s done for burns victims is incredible. Strangers now seem much more accepting of my differences.”
The heartfelt video eventually proved the perfect way for Bobby to share her innermost secrets with the man she loved. She finally plucked up the courage to show it to Walter.
She says: “He sat there quietly and watched the whole thing. My heart was racing because I had no idea what he was going to say.
“But when the film ended, he just took my hand, turned to me, and said the clip had been beautifully made and that he was proud of me. I was so relieved.”
Now Bobby says their relationship is stronger than ever.
“We are so much closer now he knows what happened to me,” she says.
“In the end, it was the perfect way to tell him and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“I don’t feel the need to hide my scars at all now – they are who I am.
“Finding love has helped me love myself after all these years.”