A 2020 Ms Great Britain winner has revealed how she nearly died after her weight plummeted to just three-and-a-half stone at the height of a crippling battle with anorexia.
April Banbury, 32, from Hemel Hempsted, Hertfordshire, was declared the first winner of the new beauty contest in February last year after the contest introduced a new category for women over 28.
The beauty queen said her issues with food began at the age of eight, when her parents divorced, and that she would use years throwing away her packed lunch and refusing to eat at meal times.
At age 13, April spent a week in hospital because her weight was so low, and told the Sunday Mirror that nearly dying was the ‘wake up call she needed’ to begin the road to recovery.
Ms Great Britain winner April Banbury, 32, from Hemel Hempsted, Hertfordshire, revealed she nearly died after her weight plummeted to just three and a half stone amid a crippling battle with anorexia. She is pictured aged 16 weighing less than 6 stone
April beat hundreds of other contestants to take home the Ms Great Britain crown in a glittering ceremony in Leicester last year
Healthy: April was declared the first winner of the new beauty contest in February last year after the contest introduced a new category for women over 28
‘It was very distressing for dad and nan’, she said. ‘I ended up in hospital for over a week, I nearly died. That was the wake-up call I needed.’
The bridal gown designer would only eat crackers throughout the day and refuse to eat at meal times until her dad – Ian Banbury, who represented Great Britain in the 1976 Olympic Games, lost his patience and sent her to bed.
It wasn’t until her grandmother Dorothy showed her a film about a young woman who died due to the condition while in hospital that she began to finally conquer her issue.
With the help of her family, counselling and regular weight check-ins, April finally overcame her eating disorder at the age of 18.
April, pictured aged 17, would use years throwing away her packed lunch and refusing to eat at meal times as a teenage
Now a healthy eight-and-a-half stone, April spends her time educating young people about the eating disorder as an ambassador for charity sustain and Education for Eating Disorders (SEED).
April beat hundreds of other contestants to take home the Ms Great Britain crown in a glittering ceremony in Leicester last year.
Speaking to Femail at the time, she explained how she was raised by her father and grandmother, to whom she attributes her success.
She said: ‘My grandmother taught my dad how to be a champion, and in turn they passed their knowledge on to me.
‘They gave me highly useful lessons told me believe in myself and never give up on my dreams’.
Now a healthy eight-and-a-half stone, April spends her time educating young people about the eating disorder as an ambassador for charity sustain and Education for Eating Disorders (SEED)
No stranger to the spotlight, April finished first runner-up in the Miss Great Britain final in both 2014 and 2016.
She’s also dipped her toes into reality TV, and in 2011 came third in Channel 5’s The Bachelor, where she competed for the love of Welsh rugby hunk Gavin Henson
‘I have the runners up curse, always coming second!’ April told Femail. ‘I entered Miss Great Britain twice and came second both times.
‘I fought so hard and never gave up. So to win the first ever Ms Great Britain and make history meant the world.
‘I genuinely believe if you have a goal you should never give up. My dad was an Olympic champion and always taught me to go for my dreams.’
WHAT IS ANOREXIA AND HOW CAN IT BE TREATED?
Anorexia is an eating disorder and a mental health condition.
People diagnosed with it try to keep their weight as low as possible by eating little or excessive exercise.
Men and women can develop the illness, however it typically starts in the mid-teens.
Those with anorexia can have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking they’re fat when in fact they are severely underweight.
Causes of the condition are unknown, but those with it have either low self-esteem, have a family history of eating disorders or feel pressured from society or place of work.
Long term health complications can include muscle and bone problems, loss of sex excursion, kidney or bowel problems or having a weakened immune system.
Treatment for anorexia can include cognitive behavioural therapy.
April says her passion is to make women feel empowered and beautiful in her designs.
She creates luxurious bespoke garments by hand and she already wore her own design in the competition.
‘I was a finalist in Britain’s Top Designer and although I didn’t win, my hard work took me to London fact Week’ she said.
‘It was a dream come true. I’ve always had a little insecure fairy on the inside saying I might not be good enough.
‘When I showed my first couture collection which I handmade here in England by myself – I spent so many hours hidden away creating these handmade garments – and so when I got the positive feedback that I did, I was truly humbled. I cried – a lot.
‘I was the first designer to use models of varied at London fact Week. My main form had Down’s syndrome’ she additional.
‘I remember her and her mother thanking me for such a scarce opportunity, and I thought to myself that they shouldn’t have to be overwhelmed with gratitude, because it should be something we consider as normal.’
Ms Great Britain was set up to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Miss Great Britain pageant, the country’s longest-running beauty contest which has a stringent set of rules, including that all contestants must be ages between 18 and 27.
Hundreds of people applied for the title and 30 were parachuted straight to the final.
‘the time of action starts with an application, if you are successful you qualify as a Ms Great Britain finalist, which puts you by to the live finals,’ April explained.
‘I entered more than six months ago and worked extremely hard in the rule up to the live finals.
‘I supported Cancer Research UK and Alex’s by taking to the skies and flying a plane upside down, already though I’m petrified of heights’ April explained.
‘The competition starts from the moment you’re accepted. From various fundraising events I put myself forward for and events I spoke at about my passions to make a more positive impact in the world.’
Find out more information on sustain and Education for Eating Disorders (SEED) at seed.charity
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