A teenage ‘ray of sunshine’ from Stevenage has reached the semi-finals of a national modelling competition.

When Tylar van der Merwe and mum Laura came across the Miss Teen Great Britain 2016 contest online, they thought it would be a good way for the 15-year-old to model, and take part in charity and volunteer work.

Mum Laura said: “I was shocked and over the moon when I learned she had made the semi-finals. Tylar was really pleased, it was a confidence boost for her.

“She is very photogenic, and I know how important it is for her to promote a positive body image and be a good role model.”

Tylar, who lives with care manager mum Laura, dad Pierre – assistant head at Larwood Primary School in Stevenage – and her 19-year-old brother Tristan, had been chosen from the photos she sent in to the competition organisers.

“She’s a peer mentor at her school and she volunteered in Thailand when we went out as a family in 2010, she wants to help everyone,” Laura said, “She’s so positive, she really is a ray of sunshine.”

As part of the competition, semi-finalists will look to fundraise for the national charity Together for Short Lives, which supports children and families affected by terminal illness – and Tylar is keen on getting stuck in with raising funds for the charity.

The Thomas Alleyne Academy pupil, who wants to become a psychiatrist when she’s older, said: “It really was a boost, when I learnt I got to the semi-finals I felt like I had really achieved something. I told my friends and they’re all really proud of me.

“I just want to be able to help others in any way I can.”