Siobhan Gardner toiled with post-traumatic stress disorder and post-natal depression when three-year-old Evan Jack developed life-threatening health problems, including meningitis and sepsis, after being born at 26 weeks, weighing just 2lb 6oz.
The 34-year-old first entered a contest in 2019 following the breakdown of her marriage in a bid to boost her self-confidence.
Ms Gardner is glad she decided to pursue a new pastime as she’s discovered she has a knack for pageants, having recently been crowned Miss Voluptuous Scotland 2021/22.
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Previously named Top Model at Miss Falkirk Curve and first runner-up at Miss International Curve, the latest accolade will give the NHS payroll worker a chance to represent her country at a Miss Voluptuous International Pageant in Nashville, USA in October.
The inner strength she’s uncovered through such competitions will always hold the most significance for Ms Gardner, though.
She said: “Miss Voluptuous has helped my mental health because it took quite a long time for me to get a diagnosis.
“It’s a taboo subject and people don’t like admitting it. I was one of those people.
“If you don’t admit the problem, there’s no help available.
“To be honest, I didn’t know anybody who had a premature baby so I want to raise awareness.”
As well as highlighting important issues, Ms Gardner has also been impressing judges.
She added: “I was flabbergasted when I won! I couldn’t believe it.
“Miss Voluptuous is an empowerment programme and I thought that would be a good one to enter – then Covid hit.
“It's a completely different experience competing virtually.
“This year it was supposed to be held in Grantham. It was a two-day event and we were going to have coaching on walking on stage, empowerment and motivational talks.
“Then we would’ve had a face-to-face interview with five judges.
“For the virtual competition, we had to video our own walk, and then participate in an online interview with 11 judges.
“It was pretty scary but I’d done a lot of preparation.”
Having previously fundraised for the Scottish Association for Mental Health, Ms Gardner is now hoping to support Bliss, a charity for babies born premature.