Pageant queen’s pledge to use platform to promote hearing health

A PAGEANT champion who uses a hearing aid says she hopes to use her victory to promote hearing health and accessibility for deaf people.

Ashleigh Russell (31) was crowned Ms Pageant Girl UK, becoming the first deaf winner to take the title in the new over-30s category.

She said: “Being the first deaf Queen that knows sign language is a huge achievement and a big step forward for the deaf community.”

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“I've had hearing loss since I was a child and have been wearing a hearing aid since the age of 25.

“I use pageants as a way to educate people about hearing loss and deaf awareness, and to encourage hearing health via my #ListenIn campaign.

“I want to help other deaf people feel proud of their deafness and make the world a better/more accessible place for deaf people.”

Ashleigh, who said winning the title was a pathway to widening her audience, adding: “I'm also going to be building awareness of some of the great things we do in South Yorkshire.

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“I volunteer for the Social Supermarket down at Rotherham Minster and have held collections for them in the past.

“I also have a good relationship with the Doncaster Deaf School and will be running a half marathon next year to raise some money for them.”

Ashleigh, of Rawmarsh, said her victory hasn't all been plain sailing as she fell down the stairs to the stage!

The police worker, who also chairs the Police Link

Officers for the Deaf Network, said she was keen Ashleigh to use her platform to make things better for the deaf community by getting them access to more services.

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During her time as a finalist, she promoted British Sign Language, something that she plans to continue throughout her reign.

Her ListenIn campaign aims to raise awareness and encourage the importance of hearing tests.

Ashleigh’s prizes include a trip to a glamorous hotel, a £350 fashion voucher and a selection of beauty products.

Holly Pirrie, director of Pageant Girl UK, said: ‘I am thrilled for Ashleigh, she worked so hard to win the crown.

“Ashleigh is a beautiful girl, inside and out.

“We know she will be a fantastic representative of the Ms Pageant Girl UK organisation and uphold our values - she has a very exciting year ahead!”