A WOMAN from Gwent who struggled with and overcame a stammer in her teenage years is now competing in the Miss World contest.

Eleri Roberts, 24, from Monmouth, will compete for the Miss Wales title in April in Newport and Cardiff - with the winner going on to represent Wales at Miss World in Thailand later this year.

But life hasn’t always been so glamorous for Miss Roberts.

When she was six years old, she began to suffer with a stammer and a lisp which led to her needing speech therapy.

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The condition got progressively worse in her teenage years, so much so that she says she was bullied at school, having a significant effect on her self-esteem.

Now, the beautician who is training to be a nurse, reflected on how she has managed to develop her confidence.

“I was quite introverted at school and the more anxious I got about the stammer, the worse it became,” she said.

“I wanted to be on the school council but couldn’t face the thought of speaking in public.”

The stammer affected her schoolwork too, particularly in English classes at Monmouth Comprehensive, where she was expected to read aloud.

Gradually, however, she was determined to overcome the speech impediment that she knew was holding her back.

“I’d practice reading with my best friend and learned coping techniques like pausing mid-sentence to compose myself,” Ms Roberts said.

Her stammer slowly reduced to the point that only those who are very close to her would know that she still stammers occasionally.

When asked what she would say to other young people affected by the condition, Ms Roberts added: “It’s really important to not be in your own head too much.

“The anxiety only makes things worse. Try to stop worrying about what people think and focus on taking the right steps to help you reduce your stammer. If I can get a hold on it, anyone can.”

Miss Roberts will be one of 38 women in the running for the Miss Wales 2020 title at the competition final on 23, 24 and 25 April in Cardiff and Newport.

All the Miss Wales 2020 contestants will be undertaking a series of challenges in the run up to the final, the most important of which is the fundraising for Beauty With A Purpose, which helps disadvantaged children worldwide.