When seven-year-old Vanessa Larkham first saw a picture of her idol Sierra Sandison, she knew then that she would defy convention and become a model herself.
She plans to strut the catwalk for the first time at the Face of the Globe pageant, at the Royal Hotel, Scarborough, on October 31.
The type-one diabetic from Ulrome near Driffield wants to show others with the condition they need not feel ashamed of medical equipment worn on their bodies. As part of her treatment Vanessa must wear an insulin pump on her leg and a continuous glucose monitor on her arm – equipment she thinks diabetics should be proud to show off.
“She’s had diabetes for nearly four years,” said proud mum 36-year-old Jody Larkham.
“She wants to raise awareness of diabetes and is going to show diabetics that they shouldn’t be embarrassed of their monitors.”
Doctors had struggled to find what was wrong with Vanessa and after becoming very ill, she nearly died before being diagnosed with type one diabetes on her fourth birthday.
The insulin pump which sits on her thigh is about the size of a pack of cards, and replaces the need for frequent injections by delivering constant doses of the hormone over 24 hours.
Jody said her daughter came up with the idea completely by herself, and that she deserves all the credit after organising various fundraising events for young persons’ charity the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation. Vanessa will also raise money for the Rainbow Foundation, who provide underprivileged children and their families with help and support. Mum Jody added: “There’s a model in America called Sierra Sandison who wore her pump in a modelling shoot. That’s where it came from, it was Vanessa’s idea. Vanessa is very sporty but the diabetes makes it difficult for her to compete, so she wanted to do modelling.” Jody said the experience will give Vanessa chance to raise money and awareness for her charities, and give her a her first step on the modelling ladder.