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Miss GB: Black Country Finalist With Cerebral Palsy Looks To Inspire Other Disabled Competitors

September 6, 2022

    A woman living with cerebral palsy, after being starved of oxygen at birth, says she hopes to inspire people with disabilities by competing for the title of Miss Great Britain.

    Shannon McNally’s condition affects her mobility, sometimes leaving parts of her body “just unable to work”.

    The 22-year-old finalist, crowned Miss Black Country in July, said she was “proud and honoured” to be competing for the national title.

    “It’s all very exciting,” she added.

    She was diagnosed with a form of the condition known as asymmetric diplegia as a child, meaning “one day only my left arm could work and my right leg won’t, and then vice versa”.

    The former beauty therapy student from Coseley also suffers from fibromyalgia, which can cause pain and fatigue.

    “You get different symptoms day-to-day. I get a lot of muscle weakness or the opposite, muscle tightness, and just feeling generally unwell,” she said.

    As a youngster she found it hard to fit in at school, she said, sometimes feeling like an “outcast”.

    “I’ve had to wear every type of cast and splint and all the different aids which the disabled community will know of,” she explained.

    “I was judged or looked at differently – whereas now I just think my disability is a part of me and it’s never going to go away.

    “So rather than try and hide it, I want to embrace it and this is what my message is to others, to hopefully inspire them to do the same.”

    Although not the first person with cerebral palsy to be shortlisted for Miss Great Britain, Ms McNally aims to change the wider pageant industry and reduce the stigma of disabled people competing.

    “I want to be one of the first Miss GB winners to have cerebral palsy and achieve something, not only for myself but for the disabled community to show we can achieve things that maybe years ago people would have never thought a disabled contestant would have been able to enter.”

    She said she had been working with charities and was in the process of setting up her own, aimed at helping young people with hidden disabilities.

    The Miss GB competition will take place in Leicester from 21 October.

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