WHEN contestants for Miss Universe Great Britain line up on stage in Birmingham in the spring history will be made.
Among them will be 22-year-old Siobhan Brindley-Lewis.
Siobhan, from Quinton, will be the first profoundly deaf woman to reach the finals of a mainstream British beauty pageant after securing a place as one of the 40 finalists out of 500 entrants.
Like the other girls in the event at the International Convention Centre on May 3 she will show off her perfect size 8 body in a bikini, evening gown and little black dress rounds.
The winner will go on to the Miss Universe final this summer, which is owned and run by American tycoon, Donald Trump.
But it will be when the eight-person judging panel interview her that she will stand out – relying on lip reading to get through.
Siobhan has been deaf since contracting meningitis at the age of three.
She had a cochlear implant fitted when she was seven to help her hear better, but went to the mainstream schools of Percy Shurmer in Balsall Heath and Shenley Court Sixth Form.
Siobhan trained as a beauty therapist at Walsall College and the University of Derby at Buxton.
Her only previous experience in beauty pageants was in Miss Deaf UK last year when she won the best evening wear category.
“I saw an advert for Miss Universe Great Britain and decided to apply because I want to encourage other disabled people to do what they want to do,” she said.
“Even if I don’t do very well, it will be good experience and hopefully will help with my career.”
To prepare for her stage debut Siobhan is at the gym seven days a week to keep her weight at a perfect 9st 6lbs for her 5ft 6ins height.
“I try not to let my disability stop me from doing anything and have a very positive ‘can do’ attitude to life,” she said.
“My role model and inspiration is Ellie Simmonds who won gold medals at the Beijing Olympics despite being disabled.”
Birmingham Mail, 14th February 2009