Sheffield burns victim to host beauty pageant with a difference

Rochelle Barrett.
Rochelle Barrett.

A Sheffield burns victim who said she had a life-changing moment when she bravely competed in a beauty pageant is hoping to pass the feeling on to others when she hosts her own content next month.

It was a truly courageous moment as Rochelle Barrett took to the stage –  wearing a bikini for the first time in her life.

Rochelle Barrett, pictured with her children La Raiya Belson and Romarve Wilson.

Rochelle Barrett, pictured with her children La Raiya Belson and Romarve Wilson.

As the crowd of around 1,000 people applauded her lack of self-belief and confidence, caused by a terrifying childhood accident at just eight months old, disappeared.

Rochelle went on to be crowned Miss Personality at the Miss Caribbean UK competition back in January 2016 and said she felt empowered by the life-changing moment.

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She said she now hoped to pass on that indescribable feeling to women in a similar situation when she hosts her own pageant in the city.

Rochelle Barrett.

Rochelle Barrett.

Rochelle, 30, from Wincobank, said: “It sounds like a cliché because everyone says it but it’s been such a rollercoaster to get to this stage.

“It’s really worked out for the best and just to be able to put the event on is amazing.”

Rochelle said seven girls would feature in the pageant and she had organised a launch event at Wincobank Village Hall on Sunday, February 24.

The competition itself – Miss Unique Beauty Pageant – will be held at the Niagara Conference and Leisure Centre on Saturday, March 30.

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She added: “We have got some ladies who have suffered burns when they were little and accidents with hot water.

“They have all said they are entering because they need a confidence boost and they’ve always said there’s never been a platform to show their scars rather than cover them up.”

Rochelle described winning the Miss Caribeean UK title as the ‘best thing’ she had every done, adding she had ‘never felt so empowered’.

She said: "I had such a positive experience when I competed in Miss Caribbean UK. I really was so scared. I would always wear long-sleeve tops and polo necks to cover my scars up.

"But when I did it, it just empowered me and I just thought wouldn't it be amazing to share that experience and feeling with others."

Rochelle suffered third degree burns to 70 per cent of her body when a childminder tripped over her with a boiling kettle when she was eight months old.

The whole of her left arm was burnt, her chest and her right thigh was also left covered in scars and her family were told to expect the worse by doctors at the hospital.

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She added: "I was burnt from the top of my hairline down. The doctors at the hospital told my mum I wasn't going to survive the night because of the trauma and if I did to be prepared for me being disfigured from the hairline.

"After spending six months in hospital and by some kind of miracle, my face is scar free but the rest of my body is covered in scars.

The Miss Unique Beauty Pageantwill be held at Niagara Conference and Leisure Centre, Niagara Road, Hillsborough on Saturday, March 30.

Doors will open at 6pm and the event will start at 7pm.

Tickets cost £15. To book or for more information contanct Rochelle on rochellebarrett92@yahoo.com.