A Purley grandmother diagnosed with ovarian cancer along with her twin sister took to the catwalk in aid of charity last month.

When Louise Darville, 57, visited her GP with symptoms of exhaustion and stress, she thought concern about her twin - who had ovarian cancer - was making her literally sick with worry.

Soon after she too was diagnosed with the disease, early symptoms of which are often mistaken for other ailments, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or side effects of the menopause.

On March 23 she took part in a fashion show at the Mayfair Hotel, as one of 13 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer modelling dresses from retailer Apricot to raise money for specialist charity Ovacome.

"It’s crazy now looking back,” says Louise, who has four children of her own and three stepchildren.

“I don’t know why ovarian cancer wasn’t my first thought.

"I had been getting self conscious when standing up in front of the class I was teaching that my stomach looked bigger.

"I remember trying to hold it in, although my husband Matt said he never noticed the difference.”

But it was not the bloating, a main symptom of ovarian cancer that led Louise to getting checked out.

“I went to the GP saying that I felt weepy, tired and exhausted all the time struggling to keep up with my normal day to day work schedule,” says Louise who has now retired from lecturing because of ill health.

“I’ve always been incredibly close to my twin and have the special connection with her that twins have, that I felt terrible that she was facing this on her own, without me going through the same thing. And so it is ironic that I ended up with a diagnosis myself,” says Louise.

Ovacome is a national UK cancer charity focused on providing support to anyone affected by ovarian cancer.

The fashion show raises funds for the charity, supporting women, their families and friends affected by the disease as well as raising awareness with its B.E.A.T. acronym of the main symptoms:

B is for bloating that is persistent and does not come and go; E is for difficulty eating and feeling fuller quicker; A is for abdominal or pelvic pain you feel most days and T is for toilet changes, bladder or bowel.

A unique dress was designed by fashion retailer Apricot, which is donating all profits to the charity.

To learn more visit: www.ovacome.org.uk