A SPORTS photographer who became the first transgender woman working in the Premier League is in the running for a national award.

Sophie Cook, of Hove, has been nominated for the LGBT Role Model category at the 2016 National Diversity Awards.

The event celebrates those who have inspired and succeeded regardless of age, disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.

The 49-year-old feared she would lose everything she dreamed of when she came out as transgender.

When she was faced with a team of Premier League footballers for the final time last season the twice married father-of-three was known by all as Steve.

The club photographer for AFC Bournemouth worried about a backlash starting a new football season this year as Sophie, when.

But she said she has been "totally accepted" by players and fans as the first transgender woman to work for a Premier League club after decades of feeling trapped in the wrong body.

Speaking to The Argus in January, Sophie said: "Stood on the pitch at Charlton shooting my childhood team, AFC Bournemouth, crowned as Football League Champions, was a dream come true. I was terrified it was to be my last ever match in football. I’d already decided that I was going to come out as transgender during the summer and I thought that I’d lose everything.”

Steve, a freelance sports photographer for 20 years and the club's photographer, had a lifelong struggle with gender dysphoria and depression. Aged seven he insisted friends he made on a family holiday called him Jenny. He felt suicidal and began to self harm, battling post traumatic stress after saving a colleague's life in the RAF.

He first began to transition into Sophie 15 years ago, but when his son was born disabled he stopped to focus on caring for him.

Last summer Steve bravely told his family he was transgender. He welcomed Sophie back into his life by taking female hormones, lost five stone in four months, and got hair extensions.

Originally 23st, Sophie now weighs 17st after embarking on a low carbohydrate diet full of healthy meals and detoxifying Aloe Vera. She said she could barely walk last year but now runs half marathons for fun, with a favourite route being along the seafront from Hove to Rottingdean and back.

Sophie's experiences fuelled a mission to help others overcome their own fears and live life to the full by becoming a motivational speaker.

The former motorbike racer and magazine and newspaper editor hosted dates across the country, including an event in Brighton which took place last month.

Now the patron of Just A Ball Game? a Stonewall schools role model and a hate crime ambassador for Sussex Police, she said she is honoured and excited to be part of the awards, the winners of which will be announced in Liverpool on September 16.

To support Sophie visit nationaldiversityawards.co.uk by June 20.