Belfast’s Bernadette Hagans becomes the first applicant to compete with prosthetic leg at Miss Northern Ireland 2021

31 May 2021 | Angelique Reyes

Bernadette Hagans, who is from West Belfast, is an example of someone who never gives up on her dreams and is ambitious no matter what obstacles stand in her way. Bernadette will compete in the upcoming Miss Northern Ireland 2021 in September, and if she wins, she will be able to represent the country at the 70th edition of Miss World in December in Puerto Rico. She becomes the first delegate to compete with an amputated leg at the competition.

The diva, at the age of 22, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, rare cancer which develops in cells around joints and ­tendons and would have to have her leg amputated, but she never stopped smiling and is now one of the contenders for Miss Northern Ireland 2021. She explained, "I lost my leg but found my voice. I know people think it’s unusual that I didn’t feel scared, but I didn’t. I felt very calm. I’ve always been a joker. My family was worried, but I tried to make them laugh because, if I was fine, then they would be fine, too. I’ve been the lucky one and now I want to help others to see there is a life after amputation – and a happy one at that. "



After having her leg amputated, the diva was signed up by London-based modelling agency Zebedee Management, which specializes in people with disabilities, and appeared in several campaigns, including one for Primark. She has always had a passion for modelling and fashion, which she demonstrated through her work, and was soon signed by Kurt Geiger for their People Empowered Campaign issue.

Bernadette is 25-years-old and will be using her platform to advocate for people with disabilities and wants to use her platform to help other people living with prosthetics. She shares, "I get so many messages from people saying that my posts on social media help them and I love to be a part of that. I love being able to show that I have a robot foot, but I can still wear these kinds of shoes and still look good. I hope other people would feel like if they had a prosthetic leg, they could do it too. After I started posting about my leg, I had so many people contact me and say how much it helped them in terms of visibility. I love that just posting a photo can help someone in some way or make someone's day. "

After being selected as one of the finalists at Miss Northern Ireland 2021, she took to her social media to share, “I’m a Miss Northern Ireland finalist?! There’s never been someone with a difference/disability before so it’s so exciting that there’s a chance that it could be me. This means so much because I’m so lucky that I get to use what’s happened to me to help people build their own body confidence, so if I can do this then so can anyone else. It’s okay to look different!”



The diva is a CLIC Sargent Young Lives Vs Cancer ambassador and works with The Boom Foundation, which is Northern Ireland's only Sarcoma charity. She is closely involved with the Cancer Fund for Children as well. Bernadette shared, "Going forward with my career, charity work is something which will be important to me, especially with coronavirus. So many charities are taking a huge hit and I think this is very much the time for people to be getting involved and trying to help. So, I want to just try and use whatever platform I must try and help and encourage others to get involved. I love being involved with charities. I have so much fun and find it so fulfilling. I get enjoyment out of it and people are being helped, so it's a win-win situation. "

The beauty queen mentioned that if she wins Miss Northern Ireland 2021 and can represent her country at Miss World 2021, she will be able to showcase to people that there is so much more to someone than having a disability. A Miss Northern Ireland spokeswoman said "Bernadette impressed the judges with her beauty, intelligence, and passion. She’s an inspirational young woman who earned her place regardless of her disability. We’re delighted to help use our platform to promote body positivity. "

We wish Bernadette all the best for the competition!