A care worker who’s battled severe anxiety and depression since early adulthood is celebrating a new lease of life after fulfilling her childhood dreams of modelling.
Brigitte Prior, who works as a healthcare assistant at Pendine Park’s Gwern Alyn care home, even contemplated suicide at the height of her mental health struggles.
After securing her first healthcare job as a home carer eight years ago, she slowly rebuilt her confidence and self-esteem and learned to manage her anxiety with the help of her partner, John Beech.
Determined to make up for lost time, the mother-of-two is now pursuing her lifetime ambition of modelling in celebration of her long journey to recovery.
The hobby has seen her taking part in an array of unusual, fantasy-themed photoshoots from sparkly fairies and gothic enchantresses to blood-soaked vampires.
She recently competed in the National Final of the Classic Miss British Isles 2020/21 Model Competition, where she represented Miss Clwyd. The contest was rescheduled from last year as a result of Covid-19.
“When I look back at how bad it was, I realise I have come a long way,” she said.
“I always wanted to model when I was younger but I didn’t have the confidence. I applied to a model agency and could’ve had a portfolio done at the time but I knew I would have to travel around to different jobs and with my anxiety, I just couldn’t do it.
“Now, I just think ‘live life to the full and fulfil your dreams’. I try to think of life as a big adventure and how sad it is if you don’t follow your dreams because you’ll forget them.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, you should always do what you dream about. Life is all about making different memories and at the end of the day, that’s all you’ll have left.”
Gwern Alyn manager Cindy Clutton congratulated Brigitte on her modelling achievements and remarkable personal journey.
“Brigitte is an example to us all in not giving up on our dreams and embracing opportunity,” he said.
“Not only is she a fantastic and dedicated care worker, valued and appreciated by her team, but she is a real inspiration to anyone who has suffered with their mental health, offering hope that life can get better with help, support and encouragement.
“I wish Brigitte the very best of luck in her modelling adventures – we are all rooting for her success.”
Brigitte, who has a son, Lawson, 14, and daughter, Angelina, 19, who has also started modelling, was born in Rinteln, northern Germany, and moved to the UK after marrying a serviceman.
She initially trained and worked as a nursery nurse before becoming a full-time mum when her children were born.
“My anxiety started when I was a young adult. I was having constant panic attacks and was severely depressed. I was suicidal,” she said.
Brigitte, who previously worked at Pendine’s Penybryn care home, caring for people with brain injuries, credits her first job in care with helping to rebuild her confidence and eventually reducing her anxiety levels.
“I needed something that worked around the children, that’s why I did home care because it helped me with pick up times,” she said.
“When I first started, I had to drive to different houses. That for me was very difficult because I hadn’t driven for a long time because of my anxiety but you have to face your fears.
“I think I’ve come a long way in the last few years. Meeting my partner really helped me. He’s always there for me and supporting me.”
Two years ago, Brigitte threw caution to the wind and applied to take part in the Miss UK International beauty pageant.
She enjoyed the experience so much she applied for a place in the National Final of the Classic Miss British Isles 2021/21 Model Competition and was thrilled to be selected as the Miss Clwyd entry.
The event, which involved a professional photoshoot and a catwalk show at Chester Racecourse, spurred the care worker on to pursue other modelling opportunities.
“I wish I’d thought about it much sooner,” said Brigitte, who has appeared in photography magazines and on photography websites.
“I’ve had a portfolio made now and everything is just starting from there.
“It is a hobby and usually I work with photographers and give my time and they give me photographs.
“I’ve done everything from a gothic photoshoot in a derelict building where I held a lit torch – that was really fun – from dressing up as a fairy.
“It would nice to get paid for it but I’m also realistic, I’m really just doing it for fun.
“Times goes so fast and I try and fill my life with lots of happy memories so I’ll have something to look back on.”