Teenager crowned beauty queen just six months after her face was paralysed by a stroke
Emily, 18, was paralysed down the left side of her body after she suffered a stroke while volunteering at Camp AmericaShe regained her smile and learned to walk again after a few months of physiotherapyWon beauty pageant she entered before becoming ill due to 'captivating eyes and smile'
12:56 GMT, 28 January 2013
12:57 GMT, 28 January 2013
A teenager has been crowned a beauty queen – just six months after her face was paralysed by a massive stroke.
Emily Shephard, 18, had to learn to walk again after losing control of the left side of her body.
She was worried the condition had robbed her of her smile but was able to beam just months later after she took the top prize in a beauty pageant.
Emily Shephard was paralysed down her left side. But within months she took part in, and won, a beauty pageant that she had entered before her stroke
She said: 'Winning the beauty pageant gave me the chance to show what I can achieve and the boost I needed.
'It shows that bad things can happen to you but with the right attitude and a bit of luck you can overcome anything.'
Emily applied to enter the beauty contest before flying to America for a 10-week placement as a summer camp volunteer.
She was walking back to her cabin in the wilds of Minnesota when she started seeing bright yellow and blue dots in front of her eyes.
Emily suddenly collapsed with a life-threatening stroke which paralysed her down her left side.
She said: 'My left leg went tingly and I fell to the ground. I couldn't get back up because I was all numb down my side and I couldn't see.
'When the doctors said I'd had a stroke I was in shock – I thought it was something that only happened to older people.'
Emily after she recovered her smile in hospital. She still needs walking aids to get around
On the road to recovery: Emily (yellow t-shirt) in a wheelchair with her friends from Camp America following her stroke
Emily was complimented on her 'captivating eyes and smile'
She said she had been bullied at home
in Wales before her trip to America and thinks the stress could have
triggered her condition.
Emily was slowly nursed back to health and needed specialist physiotherapy before returning to the UK.
But back home in Cwmbran, South Wales, there was a letter saying she had qualified for the finals of the beauty contest.
She said: 'I had completely forgotten. So when they rang I just screamed.'
Emily was still frail and needed walking aids to get around but she was determined to go ahead with her bid to become Miss Torfaen and qualify for Miss Wales.
And Emily was stunned when the judges gave her the title saying she had “captivating eyes and smile”.
Emily said: 'I can't believe that I went from being bed bound to strutting my stuff on the catwalk in Miss Wales in March.
'I realise I am very lucky and have not been as badly affected by the stroke as some people are.'
who still suffers some weakness on her left side and pain in her limbs
still attends a support group run by the Stroke Association.
spokesman Lowri Griffiths said: 'Emily's story is incredibly moving and
it is wonderful that she is making such a good recovery.
'Her experiences show that stroke is not just something that happens to older people, it can happen to anyone at any time.'