A young diabetic sufferer is determined not to let her illness get in the way of her ambition and will strut her stuff down the catwalk – wearing her monitor on her arm.
Seven-year-old Vanessa Larkham is a type-one diabetic and became inspired by American beauty pageant winner Sierra Sandison who won her title while openly wearing her insulin pump.
Vanessa, who has had diabetes since she was four, wants to show others with the condition that they should be proud of the equipment they wear.
To do so she will appear at the Face of the Globe pageant held in nearby Scarborough, North Yorks., an event which also raises money for children’s charity, The Rainbow Foundation.
Mum Jody Larkham, 36, who with her daughter has already raised over £5,000 for the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation, explained that Vanessa has learned to live with her illness well.
She said: “You can’t do a lot about diabetes and Vanessa has recognised that and has refused to let it stop her doing anything.
“It is a nuisance because people are always asking her about it but she doesn’t let it get her down.
“Vanessa is just like every other little girl – she wants to be a singer and she wants to be a princess – but when she saw Sierra Sandison at the diabetes clinic you could see she became determined to do the same thing.”
As part of her daily treatment, Vanessa wears a Continuous Glucose Monitor on her arm that measures her blood every five minutes and an omnipod on her leg that drip feeds her insulin throughout the day.
Vanessa was misdiagnosed when she first became ill and her parents went through a difficult time with their little girl becoming extremely unwell.
Jody, whose lives in Bridlington, East Yorks., with Vanessa, her husband and two older sons, said: “The fourth time that we took Vanessa to the doctor and were told that they weren’t sure what was wrong, I became really upset and said that there was something seriously wrong with my little girl.
“She was thin and tired and really quite sick.
“Finally her urine was tested and it was off the scale – she was very nearly in a coma.”
Jody continued: “This is great for Vanessa and her confidence but I think she can also use her illness as a way to bring attention to the symptoms.
“We had no idea that it might be diabetes that she had because there was no one in our family who had ever had it before and it came really out of the blue.
“There is a campaign about the 4 Ts of diabetes – Toilet, Tired, Thinner, Thirsty – and had we known those, we would have tried to get her tested for that before.”
As for Vanessa’s future modelling career, Jody said that she hasn’t got anything on the horizon after this first pageant.
She said: “I want to see how she feels about this before we decide to do anything else but this could be a huge platform for her if she says she wants to peruse this in the future.
“Whatever she decides, I know that she will continue to wear her equipment with pride.”