SHE once had to sleep 16 hours a day and could barely walk more than 100 metres without help after she developed the debilitating condition fibromyalgia.

But now, fewer than three years later, Fiona Ross has turned her life around. She is close to gaining a degree at the University of York, works in a city centre pub, is a volunteer and sings twice a week at a York church.

She is also completing her comeback by entering the Miss York 2012 competition, which she says gives her a chance to represent the usually unseen minority of disabled young women.

Fiona said: “I want to show other disabled young people that no matter what your background, you can achieve anything you want to. I really hope that I can inspire other people to reach for the stars too.”

Fiona, 21, of Osbaldwick, said that when fibromyalgia – which causes chronic pain and fatigue – was first diagnosed two-and-a-half years ago, she considered dropping out of her first year at the university.

She said: “I put on lots of weight and became incredibly unhappy because I was having to sleep about 16 hours a day and my life had totally changed.

“It was a shock at 18 to find myself labelled as disabled and unable to even walk 100 metres without help.

“Fast forward to today, and I feel like a changed person. While still suffering from fibromyalgia I have managed to nearly complete my degree in Education at the University of York, I work at the Three Tuns in Coppergate, I volunteer with York Cares and sing twice a week at the church of All Saints, Pavement.”

She said statistics suggested she shouldn’t really be able to do all she does. “In all honesty, I suffer a lot because I push myself too hard most of the time, but I am happy to do so if I can help other people.

“Being a part of the Miss York competition is opening up so many opportunities for me and I am incredibly grateful to have been given this chance. I am currently planning a fundraising event for the York Variety Club, which I think is going to take the form of a recital – I am a soprano and violinist – and afternoon tea.”