Disabled model in cash plea for tour

Katie Knowles on the catwalk at the Ideal Home Show in London earlier this year. Picture by Ian Randall Photography.
Katie Knowles on the catwalk at the Ideal Home Show in London earlier this year. Picture by Ian Randall Photography.

An inspirational disabled woman who realised her dream of becoming a model is appealing for sponsorship to help her campaign for greater diversity in the fashion industry.

Katie Knowles, 24, was just a teenager when she was diagnosed with a rare spinal condition.

She feared she would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life after developing disc degenerative disease and spinal stenosis when she was 15. She was also diagnosed with hypermobility.

But the determined 24-year-old, who is a member of the Morpeth Riding for the Disabled Association at The Pegasus Centre, Tranwell, fought back and became a model, taking to the catwalk in London and featuring in a shoot for Weight Watchers.

Katie, from Jesmond, is a disability advocate for Models Of Diversity – a non-profit campaigning group that calls for more diversity in the fashion industry – and she has teamed up with three other disabled models from around the country to embark on a tour to raise awareness.

The aim of the campaign, which will take them around the UK, is to collect signatures on a petition to present to the Government. But university law graduate Katie needs financial support for the tour.

She said: “We want to help other aspiring models with disabilities to get into the fashion industry and I want to take this fight to Westminster.

“We want to change the lives of disabled people who are alienated because of their disability. We each need to raise £1,000 to fund our travel costs.”

Katie relies on crutches and a wheelchair to get about. She said The Pegasus Centre, which offers riding opportunities for disabled people, has been a massive help.

“It has been my saviour to be honest,” she said. “When I am on a horse, it feels like I can walk normally again.”

Katie, who wants to mix modelling with a career in law, is a finalist in the Miss Newcastle GB section of the Miss North East GB beauty pageant, to be staged later this month.

The winner of the Miss Newcastle crown will win a contract with a North East model and casting agency, as well as go through to the Miss Great Britain final.

To sponsor Katie for the tour, send an email to info@modelsofdiversity.org