Last year, Katie Knowles, 25, from Jesmond, became Britain’s first ever disabled model to place in a beauty pageant, coming in third.
The 25-year-old model is now an Ambassador for Models with Disabilities and working with Models of Diversity.
She has put together a petition and is now calling on the Government to put some pressure on the fashion industry and to put down some regulations in place in regard to the use of disabled models.
Ms Knowles, has, what she calls, a Granny Disease – when she was 15, she was diagnosed with disc degenerative disease, spinal stenosis and prolapsed discs, which is extremely rare at such a young age, leaving her with a degenerating spine.
And, unfortunately, a recent surgery left her with severe nerve damage down her right leg, resulting in her needing a crutch to work.
Despite this, she does not let it get her down, as Ms Knowles continues to break boundaries and recently got involved with the Riding for the Disabled Association, which keeps her going.
She considered herself disabled three years ago and since then she has graduated with a law degree, lost four-and-a-half stone and is currently at Northumbria Law School, doing an LPC training to be a solicitor.
Ms Knowles said: “Often the liability for disabled models is too much for them, with the concern catwalk width. Their main concern is insurance, which is understanding but far too often it is used as an excuse.
“Why can’t we just have an equal opportunity? My disability doesn’t define me. Personally, I see it as a bit of added flavour.”
For Ms Knowles, each signature on this petition is a step in the right direction.
“The last visibly disabled person involved with modelling at London Fashion Week was in 1998 (Aimee Mullins, McQueen),” she says.
The Jarrow model is appealing for the public’s help to sign the petition as minimum of 10,000 signatures is needed.