Miss Scotland’s epilepsy battle

Miss Scotland 2015 Mhairi Fergusson became an ambassador for Muir Maxwell Trust after being diagnosed with epilepsy
Miss Scotland 2015 Mhairi Fergusson became an ambassador for Muir Maxwell Trust after being diagnosed with epilepsy
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Miss Scotland Mhairi Fergusson talks about confidence, her epilepsy...and coming a long way

Miss Scotland Mhairi Fergusson was just 12 when she crashed to the bathroom floor one morning, gripped by a sudden, terrifying seizure that hit her like a “bolt out of the blue.”

I got to the stage where epilepsy couldn’t define me, I’d had enough

Mhairi Fergusson, Miss Scotland 2015 and ambassador for the Muir Maxwell Trust

She had been a normal, happy, sporty girl at Dollar Academy. Being diagnosed with epilepsy just shouldn’t have happened to her, she felt . She really didn’t want to know.

When her mum tried to pass her pamphlet to help her understand her condition, Mhairi just turned the other way.

Mhairi said: “ I didn’t want to know anything about epilepsy, I didn’t want to speak about it. I hated having it. I looked at my friends and thought ‘I’m just like you’ and then thought ‘why me?’.

School become more difficult for the straight A student and Mhairi found she had to study much harder than before to get the same results.

Water skiing holidays that she enjoyed with her family were on hold. Even crossing the road by herself was a worry. Caution was everywhere, she said.

But Mhairi knew it couldn’t be like this forever – and now she is an ambassador for the Muir Maxwell Trust, raising money and awareness for the charity which works to help people just like her.

The charity, she said, had been a saviour for her and her family back in the day. In a strange quirk of fate, her father had known about the work of the trust before her epilepsy had struck for the first time

He had signed up for the Edinburgh half marathon in aid of the charity just a couple of months before Mhairi lay on the floor in the bathroom that morning.

She first spoke at one of their events when she was 14. Soon, she will host a ball at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh to raise funds for the charity that has just been there for the family.

Mhairi, who was crowned Miss Scotland in August admits she has come a long way in dealing with her condition – and not letting it take charge of who she was.

A huge turning point for Mhairi was getting into Glasgow Caledonian University to study international fashion and business, she said.

“I had to try super super hard and I was extremely proud to get into university. I wasn’t sure that was going to happen.

“It was a turning point and I was a lot more independent there than I had been. I ended up going to America to study for six months.

“I got to the stage where epilepsy couldn’t define me, I’d had enough. “

Mhairi was crowned Miss Scotland in August and is due to compete in Miss World in China later this month.

She will be there for four weeks, with just one ‘family’ day allowed when she will get to spend time with her mother Elaine, father Tom and her sister.

She said: “I always wanted to be a model, I had gone to an agent when I was about 12, obviously I then got epilepsy and then my medication may be put on weight.

“Later on I saw the Miss Scotland and thought I would go for it but I didn’t tell anyone the first time. I didn’t want anyone to know.

“But then when I got involved it gave me such confidence. I just thought ‘yes,I can actually do this’.”

The modelling and the experiences of being Miss World have opened up a new chapter for Mhairi , she said.

Mhairi added: “I can only say that having epilepsy has made me a stronger person, I had to become very determined and it made me quite strong – and hopefully very successful.

“To be honest, I can’t actually really believe what I am doing now. I was so low in confidence and I didn’t believe in myself.

“It’s a cliché to say it’s a dream come true but that is how it is. I had to work really hard to get here. I suppose I just don’t like making excuses for myself.”