A bar manager says her confidence has soared since booking her place in the final of a beauty pageant for plus-size women.

Kirstie Horner, 29, of Woodford Green, won the title of Miss Essex Curve 2014 and will now join 11 others in the grand final in July.

The manager of Sidney's Bar in Gants Hill has been a size 16 to 18 for ten years and left school at 14 due to bullying about her weight.

Kirstie, who started entering plus-size pageants four years ago, said: “I joined not thinking I would get through and was so shocked to be named Miss Essex Curve. I have done a couple of pageants, nothing on this scale though.

“I’m just gobsmacked and it is a great achievement. It just shows that no matter who you are you can be successful.

“The sash came through in the post and I can’t quite believe it, I haven’t been able to stop wearing it. It makes me makes me feel special and has given me a big boost. The letter came through and I was so excited to see the stamp of the pageant, I took it to work and my colleagues read it out.”

Kirstie said she is looking forward to the final, but admits to feeling a little worried about the prospect of wearing swimwear in front of an audience at the event at the Lost Theatre in Vauxhall.

“We have to wear swimwear, and I haven’t had a bikini on for a long time so I am really nervous about that,” she said.

“But I am just going to be myself, if you are then that shines through more than anything. I am ready to show everybody what I’m about and I’m really looking forward to it.”