Beauty queen born with cerebral palsy hopes to become first disabled Miss Great Britain

A beauty queen born with cerebral palsy is hoping to become the first disabled Miss Great Britain - after she was forced to drop out of school due to horrendous bullying.

Shannon McNally, 22, was crowned Miss Black Country in July and has done some modelling for bridal companies.

She has started a charity for children with hidden disabilities to offer support with education, after she was homeschooled by mum Donna Brown, 49, due to bullying about her disability.

Shannon was due to be a 'millennium baby' as her due date was New Year's Day 2000, but was born premature on November 3 1999 and was in an incubator.

Donna had been given injections to prevent blood clotting during pregnancy, but when she was in labour she was given another injection - and both her and baby Shannon's hearts stopped beating for one minute.

During that time Shannon's brain was starved of oxygen and five years later a brain scan revealed she had cerebral palsy.

When she was a toddler she walked on her toes and fell over a lot, and she needed splints and walking aids.

Shannon has had to adapt her outfits for Miss Great Britain and has some sandals with a low heel which have been altered as her right leg is a little shorter than her left leg.

She lives with boyfriend Harley Gregory, 25, in Bilston, Wolverhampton - but told how on nights out in town she has been challenged for using the disabled toilet, and has given up having a blue badge due to being told 'she doesn't look disabled'.

Shannon said: "I had leave high school in Year 9, I was bullied that badly because of my disability.

"I struggled a lot with my self-confidence and self-esteem, I was never ashamed of my disability but I tried to hide it.

"I always enjoyed school and used to do well - now I'm older and have more years to reflect on it I think maybe it was to do with that."

Five years after leaving school, Shannon entered Miss England, in 2019 - but she still didn't feel she was being herself.

She said: "I don't think I'd embraced my disability as much then. I just thought I needed to try something to get my confidence up.

"I can't be bothered hiding it anymore, it's so draining, and I shouldn't have to hide it. It's a part of me and it's never going away."

She still wears splints at night and has a wheelchair to hand because she struggles to walk long distances.

Shannon said when she attended school she was constantly challenged by OAPs on the bus for using 'priority seats', but was so shy she couldn't stand up for herself.

She believes there is a misconception that all people with cerebral palsy are wheelchair-bound.

The condition she has is asymmetric diplegia, meaning one side of her body will work but the other won't, and she also suffers from fibromyalgia, which makes her feel tired and unwell.

Shannon has been driving since 2017 and says she relies on her car but is constantly challenged for 'not looking disabled enough' when she uses disabled spaces - and now opts not to use them but to get her partner or her mum to go into shops.

She gets groceries delivered, and carries a key for disabled loos, which has prompted outrage in queues for the women's toilets, when she has been told 'you don't need it, can I go in before you'.

Shannon praised Barbie doll manufacturer Mattel for bringing out a range of toys which show disabilities and said it indicated beauty standards were changing.

She said: "You try and fit in and think 'maybe if I wear that there's a better chance I'll get the job' but you are most confident when you are yourself.

"I have changed my outlook, the world needs more awareness - there's so much fake, and filters.

"I have had to make sure I can wear what I can feel comfortable in, nothing obstructing my walkway, I can't have a dress in the way of my feet in case I trip on it.

"You don't necessarily have to wear high heels but it is the beauty standards that you should have to wear certain things.

"I have to be comfortable due to my disability, you shouldn't have to look a certain way to fit in. I have to take into consideration mobility aids."

The final is on October 21 in Leicester, and Shannon hopes her participation will raise awareness of disability and improve understanding.

She added: "Anyone can have a disability or be disabled, but I have been described as 'not looking disabled'.

"Sometimes I get offended at that, it's not like you're going to tell someone your life story in the supermarket.

"It might be because I've got make up on and wearing a nice dress in a queue in a bar.

"What does 'disabled' look like? I still have to wear my splints, and my shoes that have insoles, people think you've got to be in a wheelchair.

"When I got the bus to school I needed to use the priority seat and had a lot of people saying 'why are you sitting there', older people would say 'I'm more disabled than you'.

"There's no paperwork to prove it.

"A drunk woman challenged me for using the disabled loo in a bar saying 'can I go in first, there's nothing wrong with you' - then told the bar staff 'she's not disabled'.

"I laugh about it because if you don't laugh you risk taking everything to heart - there's no filter."

"My friends understand that I get really tired, I can't do things all the time but they choose places where there's less stairs.

"I look forward to going out, I'm trying to live a normal life."