Natasha Hemmings, winner of the Miss England 2015
PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 August 2015 | UPDATED: 11:15 17 August 2015
Student Natasha Hemmings, from Weston, is flying the flag for Cheshire at this month's Miss England contest
Think of beauty pageants and images of scantily clad women wearing tiaras and declaring their hopes for world peace come to mind. Step in Natasha Hemmings, winner of the Miss Cheshire competition and Miss England finalist. The 19-year-old from Weston, near Crewe, aims to break down all those barriers and pre-conceptions. Far from being a one dimensional beauty queen, Natasha has not only undertaken classical vocal training at the Royal Northern College of Music at the same time as studying at Newcastle under Lyme Independent School, she has also raised hundreds of pounds for charity, contributing to her local community including promoting science by helping primary school children to conduct simple experiments. She has also just finished her first year studying English Literature at Nottingham University.
It was just a few months ago that she won the Miss Cheshire regional heat after her mum, Kirston, encouraged her to take part.
‘My confidence and self esteem were a bit low,’ explained Natasha. ‘My mum said it would be a great way for me to build my confidence as well as make new friends and meet new groups of people.
‘Because I was studying at two schools I was feeling a little isolated and nervous of making friends and it did affect me. I had never heard of the competition before but it was a great idea because it’s really helped me come out of my shell.
‘Miss Cheshire was a really great experience because I made friends with some of the other competitors. Although you might think it would be difficult behind the scenes with so many girls competing for the same thing, it was not. We all really helped each other and cheered each other on. I helped some girls do their hair and in return I had help with my outfits. They really were a nice group of girls and we have stayed friends.’
This month Natasha will take part in the Miss England finals in Coventry. As part of her bid to win the top prize, she has to demonstrate that she has succeeded in several areas, including helping charities, her local community and also raising her own public profile. On the day she will be competing for the Miss England crown as well as hoping to win in several categories including Miss Charity, Miss Eco, a sports woman award and Miss Talent. Natasha’s special talent will, of course, be her singing. She has also designed an outfit from recycled materials based on a James Bond theme and promoted herself and what she is doing to many people. She already has more than 46,000 followers on Twitter and is writing a blog.
She has been raising money for several charities by bag packing in her local supermarket and has been running etiquette days and princess parties for young girls.
She said: ‘The etiquette days focussed on confidence building because I think that is so important for girls and young women today. It wasn’t all about good manners.
‘I felt that the girls did become more comfortable about going into any social situation with confidence and feeling good. I got some really good feedback.’
One of the motivations Natasha has for doing the competition is to showcase Cheshire.
She said: ‘I want to be a good ambassador for the area and to promote Cheshire. We have such a beautiful place here with so many incredible people and it’s important that people know about it.
‘It’s also about making a difference locally. I want to raise money for charity, just like I did before I entered the competition. But being Miss Cheshire and if I win Miss England, it is easier to do things like that.’
Despite the strides this competition has made, Natasha still has to deal with breaking down its stereotypes.
She said: ‘I was doing some bag packing to raise money for charity and a few people muttered the words ‘world peace’ at me but I didn’t mind I really welcomed it. It gave me an opportunity to explain just what this competition is about and how it is about doing good for the local community, our county and for the country. I really felt that I had changed their perception which was brilliant.
‘The current Miss England is an absolute inspiration to me. Now, I am very focussed on doing what I can to try and win the competition so I can do good work. I want people to know that events like this can really do a lot of good. I’m busy preparing now for the final and I’m excited. It would be absolutely amazing to win. I hope local people will support me in this and vote for me.’ w
Natasha was crowned the winner of Miss England 2015