Disabled model aims to raise awareness

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

However university law graduate Katie needs financial help to support 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 really want to change the lives of disabled people who are alienated and left aside, just because of their disability. But we each need to raise £1,000 to fund our travel costs.”

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

She said: “The riding school has been my saviour to be honest. 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 category of the Miss North East GB beauty pageant, with is staged at Wynyard Hall, Cleveland, later this month.

To sponsor Katie, email info@modelsofdiversity.org