A body-builder who quit after being struck down with a bowel disease has become a male model who poses for photo-shoots - proudly sporting his colostomy bag.

Hunky Blake Beckford was preparing to compete in a body-building competition when he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2003.

Over the next decade the devastated 33-year-old was treated with a variety of different drugs to keep the chronic bowel disease under control.

He was forced to give up his strict training regime - which had included two-hour gym sessions six days a week - and lost two stone in weight as his muscle wasted away.

Blake also had to give up his dream of making it big in the fitness world because his condition meant he was unable to keep his sculpted body in top shape.

Constantly tired

He lived with the debilitating disease for 10 years until a flare-up at the end of 2012 left him constantly fatigued and needing to go to the toilet 20 times a day.

Blake was eventually told he needed surgery and went under the knife in October last year at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

The dad-of-one had a sub-total colectomy, meaning his entire colon was removed, before doctors performed an ileostomy where the small intestine was diverted through an opening in the abdomen.

Blake - who also needed a further two operations to help him digest food - was then left with a stoma bag on the outside of his body.

[Related story: Crohn’s model shares colostomy secret]

He was discharged from hospital at the end of November and told by doctors that he would never be able to train at the level he would need to become a fitness model.

But undeterred, brave Blake - who weighed 11st 12lbs when he left hospital - started going to the gym in January this year and slowly increased his training schedule.

And incredibly, he has now appeared in Men's Fitness magazine and is due to be featured in Muscle and Fitness in October this year.

Body confidence

Burly Blake - who has bulked up his physique to 13st 2lbs - said he hopes his body confidence will inspire others with stoma bags to pursue their dreams.

"When I came out of hospital it was the first time I had in weeks to get used to having a stoma,” said the personal trainer, who lives with his partner in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

"I knew it was there and found it hard to accept it for weeks. I found it hard to tell anyone what I had done, the fact I had this bag on my stomach and what it did.

"It was strange because I didn't even want to show my family at first. Because you've got something that's not normal you want to hide it.

"It took a while to build my confidence again, to talk to people openly about having a stoma, to show anyone what I had.

Enjoying life

"But over time I realised that this is me and the operation made me feel like a new person, my energy levels were much better and I could enjoy life more.

"I asked the doctors would I be able to train and they said there was a risk of hernias and other problems.

"They said to start lifting weights and training to be a physique model would be very unattainable and unlikely.

"But I just thought I am going to go in there and train and built it up and see what happens. You know you're own body and I just found myself being able to handle it.

"I did my first photoshoot at the end of April and after that people began asking more about the bag and I was able to talk about it.

"People found it inspirational and my confidence grew from the support of my family, friends and social media."

Model outlook

Blake, who has a son Louie, 12, has given up his job as an accounts manager in events and is now focusing on his modelling career.

And the personal trainer plans to enter his first ever competition in the physique class of the Miami Pro UK Championships in October this year.

He added: "After the surgery I remember thinking if the best I can feel is being able to potter around the garden or spend time with my friends and family then I would be happy.

"I never thought I would be able to get in this shape and be competing for the first time.

"I had to give up my dream in 2003 when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis but to be able to get back to it now is amazing.

"I am determined to show people and society that having a stoma doesn’t change who you are.

"It doesn’t mean you’re not normal it means you can achieve anything you want to do, you can be attractive, and you can lead a normal life."

Image credit: SWNS