Samara’s teenage dream

Samara Henry-Riding, 17, from Blackpool, a semi-finalist in the Miss Teen GB contest
Samara Henry-Riding, 17, from Blackpool, a semi-finalist in the Miss Teen GB contest

Samara Henry-Riding is hoping to dazzle the judges and get through to the final of a national beauty competition.

The 17-year-old former Arnold School pupil is in the semi-finals of the popular Miss Teen Great Britain contest and is hoping the Fylde coast will get behind her.

The South Shore beauty student, who attends Central Manchester College of Health and Beauty, says she is “over the moon” to have reached the semi-finals, especially as it her first contest.

Samara, a keen dancer and horse-rider, says she hopes to succeed in the competition to help set an example for other girls – after she become ill with anorexia nearly two years ago. She has now beaten the eating disorder.

She said: “This is my first contest and I decided to enter it to gain experience with modelling and performing and to help myself gain more self-confidence and boost my self-esteem.

“The fact I have beaten such a terrible illness and time in my life and I am now starting to get myself back on track and do things I love, makes this competition even more important to me – because I feel I have been told, by becoming a semi-finalist, I am good enough the way I look.

“I am a thousand times happier now and starting to feel comfortable in my body for the first time in years.”

It was after taking GCSEs, in 2012, Samara became ill and at one point was restricting her calories to just 500 calories or less per day.

“My mum was fabulous, my rock throughout and I was helped by the crisis team in Blackpool.

“I was admitted to hospital in Preston, but although it’s a great hospital, my eating became worse due to anxiety of being separated from my mum and my best friend.”

Samara was discharged after a spell in hospital, but started attending the day care centre at The Priory in Preston.

She said: “Everything was turned around. The staff, other patients and dietician helped me start eating ‘normally’ and slowly, but surely, I started to turn things around. I am now almost fully recovered.

“I am not ashamed and if I ever have a bad day, I always speak to my friends and my mum.”

Samara’s application for Miss Teen GB will now be considered by the judges who decide which girls should go through to the final – which will take place in Blackpool, at the Pleasure Beach Globe, in August.

She could also be fast-tracked to the final, if she raises the most for charity Claire House Children’s Hospice and if she becomes Miss Popularity through uploading a photo onto social networking website and getting the most ‘likes’.

Samara said: “Getting through to the semi-final has made me feel a huge sense of achievement and to get through to the final would mean the world to me, as it would be another huge step in my recovery.

“I plan on using this competition to prove to other girls that no matter what size and shape you are, you can succeed, as long as stay positive and try your best.”

For more information about the contest, visit www.missteengreatbritain.co.uk