A TEENAGER who beat a physical condition by becoming a ballet dancer is now going to strut her stuff on the catwalk.
Esme Phillips, of Thames Road, Hebburn, was recently crowned Miss Junior Teen Tyne & Wear.
Now, the 13-year-old is preparing to take on contestants from around the UK in a bid to become Miss Junior Teen Great Britain.
Esme, who is primary carer for her mother, Emma-Jane, who has severe arthritis, was first seen in the Gazette back in March 2011.
The then-10-year-old had landed a part in a production of famous ballet Coppelia, despite being born with a condition that made her feet point almost 90 degrees the wrong way.
The youngster had been told by doctors that she could face a major operation, or she could try ballet, which might help.
Three years later, she secured a part in English Youth Ballet’s production of Coppelia at the Tyne Theatre, in Newcastle.
Esme, a pupil at Durham High School for Girls, will travel to Blackpool for the beauty contest, which is being held on Thursday and Friday, August 28 and 29.
She said: “I’m really excited, but also a little bit nervous. I only entered the Tyne and Wear round for fun, and had no idea I was going to make the final.
“That round was just online. I had to have a phone interview and then post photos on the website so people could vote, and I couldn’t believe it when they told me I’d won.
“I think taking part in the final is going to be really fun. I’m looking forward to getting all dressed up and going on the catwalk.”
The two-day final will include fun activities, photo shoots, a pyjama party and catwalk modelling.
Esme endured a tough start in life.
In 2008, her step-father Glenn suffered a major blood clot and died while playing with her in the family home. He was just 36.
She was targeted by bullies at primary school in Gateshead – suffering a cracked rib and pelvis after being pushed off playground equipment – and faced her own health problems.
Despite all that, Esme has grown into a confident young girl who gives up her spare time to feed the homeless at a Salvation Army soup kitchen.
She also still enjoys ballet dancing, as well as acting, singing and drawing in her spare time, but she isn’t looking to pursue a career in performing arts.
Instead, she has dreams of studying to become a pathologist.
n Little star! ... Page 6