Nicole swaps tiara for the boxing ring

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An Antrim beauty queen is set to swap her tiara for boxing gloves in a bid to raise funds for local charity, the MS Society.

Nicole McLoughlin – who won the prestigious Miss Congeniality at a Northern Ireland wide beauty contest - has pledged to raise £500 for the MS Society by getting involved in ChallengeMS.

ChallengeMS is a fundraising event happening throughout September.

People can do anything from wearing an orange wig, to taking on a personal challenge or hosting an event like a coffee morning.

All the money raised will go towards funding world class MS research.

Nicole has set herself a challenge of getting fit and has been inspired to take part in the challenge by a close family connection to MS.

“My cousins Anthony and Declan Quinn lived with MS for many years,” Nicole said.

She added: “Unfortunately they experienced many MS symptoms including vision loss, mobility problems and pain and they went through a lot.

“I was always very close to them – they were more like brothers to me – so when they both passed away this year it was a very sad time for me and my family.”

Having seen first hand the impact of the condition on her family members, Nicole is striving to raise funds to help research MS.

“Before Anthony and Declan’s diagnosis I didn’t really know a lot about MS,” Nicole said.

She added: “But having cared for them and watched how it impacted their lives, I’ve seen first hand what a devastating condition it is. They had a progressive form of the condition and unfortunately there aren’t any treatments for this kind of MS. That’s why supporting research is so important to me.

“When I won the ‘Miss Congeniality’ title I knew I wanted to do everything I could to help raise awareness of MS and support the important research being funded by the MS Society.

“I’ve set myself a challenge to get fit by training every day with my trainer Eamon Gillen from ‘Big Gym’ and I’m also planning to organise a quiz night and music night with my mum! I’m really looking forward to getting involved in ChallengeMS and I’d like to encourage other people to get involved too!”

More than 100,000 people are living with MS in the UK. Most people are diagnosed in their 20s or 30s.

To find our more about Challenge MS visit www.challengems.org.uk or call the MS Society NI Fundraising Team on 028 90 802 802.