NO amount of staring or bullying will stop 14-year-old Holly Chidgey from strutting her stuff down the catwalk.
The Crofton School pupil was born with a rare eye condition which meant she was born without muscles around her eyes to life her lids.
The genetic disorder called Blepharophimosis Ptosis Epicanthus Inversus Syndrome (BPES) also means there is excess skin in the tear ducts.
Her mum Lucy remembers thinking something was not right when Holly was born in 2005.
The 45-year-old said: ‘She was premature and so the nurses told me that was why she couldn’t open her eyes but I wasn’t convinced.
‘We got a second opinion and then went to Queen Alexandra Hospital where they diagnosed her condition from a book it was so rare.’
At 15 months old, Holly had temporary surgery to attach her eye lids to her forehead muscle so she could open them and then at five years old had permanent surgery using part of her leg muscle.
Lucy, from Stubbington, said: ‘It was horrible and very traumatic but I am so glad she had the surgery as doctors told otherwise she would have been blind if we had left her lids closed.’
As she was growing up Holly faced stares in the street and name calling at school.
Lucy said: ‘Someone asked me at the till if she was a mongol and others asked if she had Down syndrome. It made me realise how rude people can be.’
Last year Holly starred on the BBC telling her story and the video was shown at her school.
She said: ‘The bullying stopped after that. I think they said things because they didn’t know me and they didn’t know about it but the video helped them.’
Now Holly is set to take part in the Portsmouth Kids Fashion Festival which raises money for Cancel Cancer Africa.
Production assistant Lucy said: ‘I am so proud of how she has handled everything in her life and for taking part in this catwalk. I think it is giving her confidence and she is showing people that everyone is beautiful no matter what we look like.’
Holly added: ‘I am excited to do it and a bit nervous as well but I want to show people that everyone is different but special in their own way.’
Ronnie Jacobs runs the fashion festival to raise funds for the Cancel Cancer Africa charity, which he founded in 2016.
He said: ‘The show means people in Africa are getting diagnosed and help with treatment and the kids here no matter what their size, shape, ability or ethnicity are getting confidence in themselves and that is amazing.’
The fashion festival is on June 15 at The Pyramids.