By Niamh Shackleton
A catwalk model aged 12 has defied the doctors who said she’d never walk by hitting the runway.
Lois Groom, from Ware, Hertfordshire, has a rare chromosome disorder – that affects just one in 55,000 – called 18q Deletion Syndrome.
And despite doctors predicting that she’d never walk due to her diagnosis at 14 months old, Lois has defied all the odds.
Lois’ mum, Dawn, 44, decided to launch her daughters modelling career two years ago after strangers prompted her to try it.
Dawn hasn’t looked back and says Lois has gained tonnes of confidence since starting her modelling career.
Dawn, who works in retail, said: “Lois absolutely loves doing her modelling and is constantly telling everyone about what she has coming up.
“She is really proud of herself, and so am I of her!
“When Lois was little, she would bum shuffle everywhere, rather than walk – which raised alarm bells for me.
“After months of tests and scans, she was eventually diagnosed with 18q Deletion Syndrome at 14 months old.
“After a lot of online research, I saw a lot of children with the condition were wheelchair bound, so I braced myself for the worst with Lois.
“She still struggles with walking and fatigue but is a great improvement on our expectations back then.
“I never imagined we would be sat in the crowd watching my daughter on the runway it’s amazing.”
Most people with the condition 18q Deletion Syndrome – whereby chromosome 18 is missing a piece – are affected by delayed development with skills such as sitting, crawling, walking, and speaking, and intellectual disability that can range from mild to severe.
Some children with Lois’ condition cannot walk or speak at all whilst Lois can speak but is delayed in her understanding and often finds it difficult to express or explain things.
Amazingly, after lots of hard work from doting mum Dawn, dad Darren, 45, and hydro and physiotherapy, Lois finally started walking at two years old.
Ten years later, Lois is participating in Liverpool Fashion Week as a model.
Dawn added: “It’s phenomenal to see Lois doing what she loves.
“The idea of Lois going in to modelling all came about because I used to dress her up in gorgeous dresses and things, so people would comment on how nice she looked and said she should try modelling.
“Her first booking was with high street giant River Island and she has since gone on to do other model work, charity awareness campaigns as well as TV and film work.
“I work in a designer clothes shop, so it was hard not to want to dress her up from day one!
“She only started modelling a couple of years ago, but is now being pre-booked months in advance for events.
“Someone has already booked her in for a fashion show in February 2020.”