Kate Grant, 19, beat 40 other candidates from across the globe to win the Teen Ultimate Beauty Of The World competition held in Portadown. After winning she said she wanted other people with 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,’ Kate added. ‘If the judges saw that in me, then I’m happy.’ After winning the pageant, Kate will now go on to front a toy drive for children being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
She will also be involved in photoshoots throughout the year and be called back as a judge and mentor to other young women at next year’s final. She told The Mirror: ‘My dream has come true. And that dream is to get a chance to inspire young people who have Down’s syndrome and other special needs to believe in themselves.’ The beauty pageant, which celebrates diversity in its entrants, has three age categories for children, teenagers, and people over 20.
It is open to anyone regardless of weight, height or marital status and supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity that helps fulfill wishes to children with life-threatening conditions. Candidates flew in from around the world to go up against Kate, who was representing Northern Ireland where she lives in Cookstown, County Tyrone, in the competition. Along with other contestants, Kate was interviewed with a panel of judges before modelling a number of themed outfits on the catwalk. The fashion-loving teenager is no stranger to modelling after first taking it up aged 13 before being picked to take part in Belfast Fashion Week.
But her mother Deirdre says it has not always been easy for Kate to enter the world of modelling. She has been emailing Kate’s photographs to agencies, but says many have not picked them up – which she believes is due to Kate’s Down’s syndrome. She recently posted a photo of Kate at her prom and asked followers if it was unrealistic for her daughter to want to be a model. Her post was shared 26,000 times and caught the attention of pageant director Taylor-Rae Hamilton, who invited Kate to take part. ‘Kate said it was her dream come true to enter the pageant. Now she could help make dreams come true for other kids,’ Deirdre said.
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