School girl Naomi Durden lead a normal teen life & had dreams of becoming a model when at 15 a shock stroke changed everything.
During one lunch break Naomi suddenly collapsed. She had suffered a stroke.
'I suddenly felt tense and agitated, then everything when black,” she recalls.
“My friends said my whole body was twitching and fitting. They were absolutely petrified.”
A few days later Naomi was told she had a 1cm hole in her heart which docs feared could have sparked her seizure. She was to spend a whole year in hopsital.
“I was hooked and wired up to every machine going and I had no feeling in my right arm or leg – it was really frightening,' she said.
“My family were all around me and my hospital phone was ringing every five minutes with worried friends bursting into tears."
“It was like a nightmare I just couldn’t wake from. The doctors said I might never walk again, as the paralysis in my left side was deemed permanent."
But Naomi was determined to prove the doctors wrong and with help from supportive family, within six months Naomi had recovered enough to sit her GCSEs in a special hospital room, managing seven passes despite having no time to study.
While the slender teenager had her heart set on a modelling career, the hospital-bound Naomi had put on weight and found herself at a size twenty.
“I was on medication that affected my glands and the way I burned fat,' she told us.
'I couldn’t even move while my side was paralysed and I comfort ate too.'I woke up one morning and realised I was overweight, unhappy and frightened – modelling seemed a distant dream.”
It wasn’t until the beginning of 2008 that Naomi, who was working as a customer services officer for her local government, realised the problem. She split with her previous controlling partner and met a new man at work.
“He changed my life completely. After everything I had been through – I needed someone to support me in every way – and he is perfect.”
Thanks to Darren’s love of healthy cooking and the gym in her parents' garden, 20-year-old Naomi has slimmed to a size 16. She is back to a clean bill of health and has rediscovered her modelling dream.
“A friend sent me details of the Britain’s Next Plus size Model and after what I had been through, I thought: 'Why not?'”
Naomi sent off four recent shots in December 2008 to Just As Beautiful Magazine, who were hosting the competition a few months later. After weeks of not hearing anything, Naomi assumed she hadn’t got through and got on with her life.
“Just after Christmas, I got email saying I was through to the final and had beaten 500 other girls, I was speechless.”
Naomi would compete against 12 other plus-size models in various catwalk shows and interviews in a bid to be named Britain’s Next Plus size Model. While Naomi didn’t scoop the winning prize, the experience has been the ultimate dream ending to her previous living nightmare.
She adds: “I thought I would be worrying about my wobbly arms and tummy, but as soon as I stepped out on the catwalk, I felt beautiful.
“When I found out I hadn’t won, it didn’t affect me like it did the other girls – they were crying in the toilets or storming off home, while I went and cheered when the winner claimed her prize – I was genuinely pleased for her."
“For me, the experience wasn’t about winning. The fact that I even stood on that stage was proof that the unachievable can be achieved.”
And while Naomi’s modelling dreams are still very much alive, she has no plans to slim down in order to get there.
“I love food and drink and although I’m a lot healthier now, I’d never give it up! I wouldn’t want to get any smaller than a size 12-14. I am a curvy girl, and that’s the way I like it.”
For more information on Britain's Next Plus Size Model, visit justasbeautiful.co.uk.