THERE ‘wasn’t a dry eye in the house’ when a disabled little girl achieved her dream of becoming a ‘princess’ – by winning her first-ever beauty pageant on Thursday (August 13).
Inspirational little Lily Putman, of Southwick, has had a tough start to life. The youngster was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus, kidney and bladder problems, and is paralysed from the waist down.
Lily got a standing ovation. The expression on her face was amazing. It’s something that will stick with her for the rest of her lifeSara Collins, director of Sara’s Stars
However, despite being confined to a wheelchair, that didn’t stop the bubbly seven-year-old clinching her first pageant victory at a competition in Eastergate this week.
Sitting in her chair – which is lovingly adorned with character’s from Disney’s Frozen – Lily collected her tiara for winning the title of Natural Supreme.
Mum Lisa said: “I am so happy and proud of Lily. She has wanted to participate in a pageant for a couple of years now after attending one as a special guest. I never in a million years thought this opportunity would ever come.”
Lily’s disabilities limit her to how far she can travel, meaning she very rarely has the chance to take part in beauty contests.
However, when she heard about the event in Eastergate, run by Penni Stewart in conjunction with Sara’s Stars, a local model, talent and PR agency based in Shoreham, she seized her chance.
About 30 children took part in the competition.
Sara Collins, director of Sara’s Stars, promoted the pageant and coached several contestants, including Lily.
She said: “The three judges just about held it together when they saw her in the first round. But in the second round all three of them just totally broke apart. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
“Lily got a standing ovation. The expression on her face was amazing. It’s something that will stick with her for the rest of her life. I have never seen a child so happy.”
Sara, 45, said this novice pageant was for adults and children.
She added that she was ‘determined’ to ‘re-educate and inform’ the public about pageants, and stressed they were open to all ages, sizes and abilities.
Penni Stewart, 26, was the pageant director. She agreed with Sara and said: “Having Lily compete on a level playing field with the other contestants just showed how accepting and non-judgemental the pageant community really is.”
Lily is now looking to compete in a pageant in Portsmouth later this month and hopes to join others in the coming months,
Sara added: “She has really caught the pageant bug.”