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I look different from other girls and didn't want to go to Prom... then I found a dress to fit and cried with joy; BRAVE HAYLEY IN HER OWN WORDS Diary of teen who touched nation.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE by EMILY RETTER

SHE claimed to be an ordinary teenager - but to all whose lives she touched, Hayley Okines was undoubtedly extraordinary.

Born with a rare premature ageing syndrome, Hayley was destined to age at eight times the normal rate.

By the time she died aged 17 last week, leaving behind mum Kerry, 41, dad Mark, 54, brothers Luke, 21, Louis, 12, and sister Ruby, nine, the bubbly teen had the body of a 100-year-old.

Weeks before she died, Hayley of Bexhill, East Sussex, finished her second autobiography, Young At Heart, the first in her own words.

In our exclusive extract, Hayley describes with humour and poignancy what it was like being a teenager trapped in an elderly body and her dream night at her school prom.

These are the final words and hopes of a remarkable young woman.

People always ask me what it's like being a teenager with progeria. And I never know what to say because there's nothing to it.

I don't think of myself as being a teenager with rare Hutchinson-Gilford progeria - I'm just a teenager.

The reality is, I'm no different from any other teenager. I still have to get up, go to college and do all the regular, boring stuff.

I hate being called old because I don't feel any different from other teenagers.

It's weird, but when I was younger used to have this dream that one day would leave home and move to New York and open a beauty salon.

Now that I am actually old enough to leave home, I've changed my mind. I'm not really bothered about finding love either - I'd rather have lots of cats and dogs.

Most other girls my age have boyfriends. I don't, although there is a boy who used to be at school that I liked. We were friends a couple of years ago.

Once he spoke to me in maths class and I'm sure I went red.

I whispered to my friend Courtney, "I think I'm going to be sick," which is not very cool.

Mum used to tease me and say Harry Crowther, a friend who also has progeria, was my boyfriend. He's 15 and has atypical progeria.

That means he ages only five times faster than normal compared with my eight times - which makes him 75.

"Harry's your toy boy," Mum says, when she really wants to annoy me!

Harry's a real gentleman, he's funny and kind, but not my type. My type is more Nathan Sykes from The Wanted.

I've met the band lots. There are some perks of having progeria - I get to go backstage to meet them.

I have met lots of other famous people too like Kylie Minogue, Prince Charles, Simon Cowell, Justin Bieber and Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter.

I actually asked Nathan if he could take me to my school prom last year but he couldn't make it. Then afterwards I checked Twitter and there was a direct message from him.

It said "Hey U! So sorry I couldn't make it yesterday! You looked adorable and I really wish I could have been there!! Sad face. See you soon! Xx". I was so happy, tears rolled down my face.

I hadn't been sure I wanted to go to the prom but my friend Courtney begged me. When I was younger, like seven or eight, I used to love getting made-up.

Mum would help me put make-up on and I would pretend to be Princess Hayley. But as I got older I was more aware of how I look different from other girls.

Like many teenage girls I have issues with my body. I don't like any part of me. My knees are knobbly and my arms are really thin.

I hate showing them, so I always cover them up with jogging bottoms, hoodies and cardigans. And I always wear a bandana on my head, I feel naked without one.

To me it's like going out without underwear.

Eventually when I decided I would go to the prom, I went shopping with Mum.

All we could find were fulllength dresses. The more we looked, the more depressed I became.

They were all made to fit your average-sized teenager not a seven-year-old.

But then I turned around and there it was. Aqua blue, the same colour as my eyes, and made from a light, floaty material. It was perfect.

I know this sounds stupid, but I got butterflies in my stomach just looking at it. Even better they had it in my size.

I don't have eyelashes so I decided to try fake ones.

Mum was panicking as she thought I would look like a drag queen.

My older step-brother Luke took me that night. I felt like a celebrity. Just as the slow dances started and all the boys started asking girls to dance, my dad turned up to take me home, which was a relief.

The truth is, I really am a sad excuse for a teenager. I don't do any of the things that girls of my age are expected to do like drink, smoke, swear or hang around on street corners.

I hate alcohol too - wine is horrible and beer smells like old socks.

Generally I would rather stay at home snuggled under a blanket in my onesie with a cup of tea in one hand, a biscuit in the other, watching TV.

I do get scared when my friends with progeria die.

But I don't think that's the end to it. I think you become a ghost or get reincarnated.

Mum is always telling me one day I'm going to be reincarnated as a sloth because I take so long doing things.

But I wouldn't complain if I did - there are far worse things to be.

Young At Heart by Hayley Okines is available at myBook. to/HayleyOkines, published by Accent Press, www.accentpress.co.uk.

mirrorfeatures@mirror.co.uk

I got butterflies just looking at my dress. Mum was panicking I'd look like a drag queen in false eyelashes HAYLEY ON GETTING READY FOR PROM

CAPTION(S):

MADE UP Hayley gets her make-up done and, below, proud dad Mark

HAPPY DAYS Brother Louis and sis Ruby. Left, in onesie

SAD NEWS Our story last week
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 6, 2015
Words:1045
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