Inspirational model who beat the bullies

Sophie Russell thought her life-long dream of becoming a model was over after she was attacked by a violent gang and left with horrible injuries.

But the brave 16-year-old has fought back and is now pursuing her dream career – she has even thanked the bullies for making her a “better person”.

Sophie, who has autism, had to have after re-constructive surgery on her face as well as months of counselling to get her confidence back after being punched in the face about 20 times.

Two years on from the attack, Sophie has carried the Olympic Torch and has reached the second round of a modelling competition run by Watford-based company Fresh Academy.

She said: “All of my surgery and counselling is now complete my life is going extremely well.

“I am now working towards a modelling career and becoming myself again.

“This has been my career of choice since I was about four. I thought that because of my face I wouldn’t be able to do it. I thought ‘I’m going to have to pick a different career’.

“My confidence was at rock bottom. I thought ‘you have to be strong’.

“Since I carried the torch I have become a better person. I thank the people who beat me up because I wouldn’t be the person I am today, I’ve become a much better person – I’m much more ambitious, it’s thanks to them.”

The attack – which happened in Louth in February last year – left Sophie with serious internal bruising, a broken nose, shattered face, post traumatic stress disorder, a scar on her top lip and jaw and hip crack.

If Sophie wins the competition she will get a modelling contract and will appear on the cover of a glossy women’s magazine.

She is taking part in a photoshoot in December and the pictures will be put to a judging panel.