Pageantry: So Much More Than Just a Pretty Face

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So, you've heard of Miss Wales, but do you actually know anything about the competition beyond the beautiful faces you see associated with it? I'll be the first to admit that, until recently, I didn't. That is, until I had the pleasure of catching up with Miss Wales 2017 finalist, and one of my best friends, Meredith Isherwood, from North Wales. Meredith filled me in on everything behind-the-scenes of competing in the pageant and I have to say, it's been a huge eye-opener. So much goes into this competition that I had no idea about, which is why it's so important that this is shared. 

First of all, let me introduce Meredith. You might've already seen or heard interviews with her in newspapers, on radio shows and most recently in an impressive face-to-face interview on ITV Wales. Meredith is a twenty-three year old who graduated recently from the University of Kent. She's ambitious, dedicated and enthusiastic, and puts her whole self into everything she does. Since her diagnosis of thyroid cancer early last year, these attributes have only been emphasised within Meredith. Her experience with the life-threatening illness has only spurred her on to live life to the fullest.

Having to put her travel plans on hold whilst she recovers, Meredith has instead undertaken numerous charitable activities such as Outrun May, where she raised over £300 in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support by running 50 miles throughout the month. It goes without saying that for someone recovering from cancer,  this is incredibly awe-inspiring. But this is just where Meredith's enthusiasm and determination begins: she's climbed mountains, sailed and gone white-water rafting too. This leads us to here: where she decided to apply for the competition. 

Last year, Meredith decided to take a leap of faith and apply for Miss Wales 2017. With more time on her hands than she initially anticipated for 2016, she jumped at every opportunity and welcomed the chance to support others in need. Her gamble paid off as she is now a finalist in the competition and a thriving one at that. For those who don't know much about the competition, here is a little bit of background information. First of all, the Miss World pageant has its own charity: Beauty With a Purpose (BWP). This amazing charity was created by Julia Morley in 1972 especially for the pageant in an effort to raise money for disadvantaged children around the globe. Every single contestant who competes around the world is encouraged to raise money for the charity in the lead up to the contest. Hundreds of millions has been raised and donated to both local and international organisations in aid of disadvantaged children. In Wales alone, almost £500,000 has been raised by the Miss Wales finalists. So, from this alone I think we can all agree that pageantry is not just a pretty face. 

For Meredith's own fundraising efforts, she has hosted a sponsored BodyShop evening, a Team Flintshire charity 'big kids' night (it was just as fun as it sounds!) which she organised alongside two other North Wales contestants, Rachel Stevens and Cally White. Meredith is also organising a local speed dating night, which promises to be  an evening of frivolity, fun and a relaxing atmosphere. Aside from her fundraising efforts, Meredith has secured a fantastic sponsor in Cambric Gowns, the creators of stunning gowns who are based in Mold. She has also shown her support at local open evenings such as Theatr Clwyd's ice rink opening over the Christmas period and attended a charity launch evening for Lady Showbiz, where she donned one of Cambric Gowns' gorgeous pieces (see first image). 

Meredith frequently shares her experience of meeting inspiring and supportive people throughout her journey, including the other Miss Wales finalists, who she admits are pretty stiff competition. For Meredith, though, the journey itself is far more important, and winning the competition final on April 8th 2017 will just be a bonus.

In the meantime, Meredith is keeping busy with lots of plans: from attending a charity ladies lunch in the Ritz London to being asked to become a judge at a talent show. She will also continue in her current role as the face of and brand representative for Nightingale House Hospice. As a part of this role, Meredith will attend many events and show her support for the hospice. 

As a face of the hospice, Meredith will also be part of a beautiful team of women who will show that charity-shop fashion can be for anyone, regardless of your gender, age, size or budget. To send this message to the public, Meredith and the team will be modelling clothes from the hospice's charity shops and every day a photo will be posted to social media. This message is all-too-important, as the hospice costs £7.7 million per annum to run. Here's to hoping the campaign kicks off after so much hard work and dedication! I know I will be shopping in their charity stores in future. 

Meredith is undoubtedly a brave and inspiring young woman, who shows the world that battling and surviving cancer does not prevent you from living life. She will be the first to admit that she doesn't consider herself as unfortunate because of her diagnosis, and she reveals this through consistently reaching out to help those who are less fortunate. The Miss Wales 2017 competition allows her to do just that, and she has already achieved so much with regards to her fundraising for Beauty With a Purpose and her support of both local and national charities alike. 

Best of luck with the remainder of the competition, Meredith! 

If you want to find out more about Meredith and her story, you can find her at her official Facebook page.

 

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Lauren Harrison, 24, MA graduate in Modern & Contemporary Fiction. Aspiring writer/lecturer in the process of applying for a PhD at the University of Chester.