A FUNDRAISER is ready to get up close and personal on the catwalk to end the stigma of stoma bags.

Steph Donnelly thought life would never be the same again when she had a stoma bag fitted six years ago after years of bowel and stomach problems, but she battled depression to overcome her fears and live life to the full.

Despite horror stories of not being able to stay active she wrote a list of everything she heard she could not do and did them anyway. She went swimming, camping and travelled to the US.

“My first question to the surgeon was, ‘Can I still do a parachute jump?’ He said probably not so I did the next best thing and went abseiling instead.

“I went swimming, camping and lived my dream of travelling around America and seeing Niagara falls. It took me about six months though to accept my bag.


“The only support I had was from my stoma nurse and the internet – that’s why I set up a group of my own. What I really wanted and needed was to sit and talk to someone who had been through the operation and learn how they had coped."

The 31-year-old, from Bingley, is now organising a charity night and fashion show to raise awareness and support of the condition.

“Many people struggle through in silence as talking about bowels is a big no-no.

“My aim is to encourage sufferers that it’s time to start living and not merely surviving, to not listen to people who say you can’t swim, travel, or eat out in case of embarrassing leaks but listen to someone who says, ‘Yes you can’,” she said.

Now Ms Donnelly and her ostomates from the support group are planning a big fundraiser at the Midland Hotel in Bradford on Saturday, September 26.

The money will be split between Crohn’s and Colitis UK and The Breakaway Foundation, a registered charity that encourages children with stomas to get involved in outdoor activities designed to re-build their confidence.

Ms Donnelley said: “I want to prove to people that there is life after surgery, that you don’t need to hide away or be put down by society when you walk into a disabled toilet without a stick as people can’t see what is hidden under your clothes.

“I want to go on a catwalk and prove you can wear sexy underwear, tight-fitted dresses or whatever you want to. I want people to know their not alone and I want to build people's confidence with their little brown bags as often that brown bag hidden is a life saver.”

Ms Donnelly is hoping a clothes shop or dress agency will get in touch to help with the fashion show and she is also looking for raffle prizes as part of the charity dinner which will star swinging Bradford band The 309s.

Anyone able to help or interested in buying tickets should call 07800 811695.