Irish Teenager With Down Syndrome Defy Doctors, Win Global Pageant Contest

Published August 19th, 2018 - 10:38 GMT

A teenager has defied doctors who 'painted a bleak future' and said she would never learn to read or speak, by becoming the first model with Down's Syndrome to win an international beauty pageant.

Kate Grant, 19, took the top prize in the Teen Ultimate Beauty Of The World competition, held in Portadown, Northern Ireland, which celebrates diversity.

The event has three categories for children, teenagers and over-20s and is open to anyone regardless of weight, height or marital status.

It also supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity that helps fulfill wishes to children with life-threatening conditions.

Forty candidates from around the world took part in the pageant, with Kate representing her native northern Ireland. 

After an interview with a panel of judges, Kate took to the catwalk in a number of themed-outfits, including jeans and white T-shirt for the casual look, a black and white cocktail dress for the formal round and a sparkling, turquoise sequinned dress for the Time to Shine category.   

Kate has wanted to be a model since she was 13 and enjoys dabbling with make-up, clothes and fashion. 

She has previously modelled at Belfast Fashion Week and for boutiques in her home town, in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, but despite mum Deirdre emailing her photographs to agencies, she struggled to get any work - something she believes was due to having Down's Syndrome.

Taking to social media, Deirdre posted a picture of Kate looking stunning in her prom dress and asked if it was unrealistic for her daughter to aspire to be a model.

She was stunned when the post was shared 26,000 times and seen by pageant director Taylor-Rae Hamilton, who then invited Kate to take part in the Teen Ultimate Beauty of the World.

Her achievement is a far cry from the bleak outlook one doctor described for parents Deirdre and John, just hours after Kate was born and confirmed as having Down's Syndrome.

At that time, they were told their daughter would never learn to read and have limited speech.

Speaking to Kim Willis for Sunday People, Kate's proud mum said: 'I thought of him [the doctor] as she made her acceptance speech up on the stage at the pageant, describing her hopes for an inclusive society, one where people like her are treated as equals.' 

Having been crowned the winner, Kate will be involved in photoshoots throughout the year and participate as a judge and mentor at next year's final.

She will also be involved in a toy drive for poorly children at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.    

Kate added: 'I want the next generation who have any special needs to know the true meaning of beauty is who you are, not what you look like.

'Kindness, compassion and inner ­sparkle, that's the ultimate beauty. If the judges saw that in me, then I'm happy.'

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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