Miss Bolton and Bury on the Miss England Semi Final 2015.
Sometimes I sit in front of a computer screen with so much to say and the feeling of inadequacy that I cannot find the words to compel the audience to believe me. So, I turn off the computer and take out my diary; my diary is just for me and I could never be the subject of my own disappointment as long as I continue to work on my own weaknesses.
You see, that, above all, is what I have most valued as a result of my experience. I knew coming into Miss Bolton and Bury that I was not perfect and I had just accepted it before. I never pursued perfection because it is unattainable by anyone; I thought that even trying would be a pointless endeavour.
Now though, I have breathed in a new type of confidence that drives me to face my fears and escape the confines of my comfort zone. Whilst perfection is unattainable, I am constantly working on the weaknesses I wore on my eco dress. I am working hard not to get frustrated, not to be shy and reserved, not to be sarcastic and to truly value the privilege I work hard to enjoy.
So I want you to believe me when I say that on Sunday 5th July when Mark Jones announced that I placed in the top 10 in the semi-finals of Miss England, I was flush with pride and elation. Backstage I had taken off my shoes and was ready to take off my dress when my name was called; I did not expect that in any millennia I would be going to a Miss England Final.
When I was younger I dreamt of being a lawyer; never a beauty queen. I was made to feel like that would never be an option for me and now it is, my eyes and heart have been opened to a world of opportunities I never imagined myself having. Getting my law degree was a proud moment for me and so too, when I bought a house.
But they were always a foregone conclusion for me; my academic and professional drive were always going to get me there. What I lacked and what this contest is teaching me is how to view myself and other women. I never imagined that would be something I could achieve and doing so has filled me with more pride than ever.
So, I’m in the final? The final of Miss England. 20,000 people have participated in the competition this year, and me from the small northern town of Bolton has made it. It still does not feel real.
I am both excited and nervous for the experience. Excited to get back into the community and put my hands to work raising funds and raising awareness for the competition. Excited to see the girls again and have the blast that the events are. Excited to make my talent video and find sponsors for the event. Excited to train for the boot camp.
But I am also nervous. Nervous that I won’t perform as well as I can, and nervous I might say the wrong thing. Nervous that I might also pass out in the sportswoman round. The mix of my excitement and nerves has adrenaline already pumping around my body as if to remind me that this is all real and I need to get to work.
Of course for myself but I don’t just want to be successful for me.
I want to do it for my town and for the people who have believed in me. I also want to do it for Team North because any one of the girls I have met would do a smashing job of being Miss England. I want to do it for Mark and Mary whose events give the girls so much more than a crown and sash. I want to do it for all the girls who value education and pursue professional careers and have felt like they were not beautiful.
I hope you will all continue to support me in my efforts to be the best version of myself; I am at the present time the best version I have ever been and I have only the people at Miss England – especially Mark Jones – to thank for that.
Even thinking that I could potentially be Miss England gives me shivers.
Finally, the text vote has now opened – I am contestant number 30. Please text ‘Miss England30’ to 63333 and make even the most unrealistic dream a reality.
The transition from Miss BB1 to Miss Semi48 and now to Miss England30 is a journey that has made me a better person and no matter what the result on the final – I feel like I have won a lot already.
A lot of friends and a family up here in the North that astonishes me every day!
Laura Collins – Miss Bolton and Bury 2015