Kettering woman hopes to be first ever Ms Great Britain
A woman from Kettering is in the final for the first ever Ms Great Britain, a pageant for over 27s, and hopes to win by raising money for charity.
Stephanie Smith, 28, came second in the public vote in last year's Miss Great Britain, missing out by just 63 votes in the closest ever final.
Stephanie first got involved in pageants to raise money for charity after losing her dad to cancer and having a cervical cancer scare herself. Stephanie also said pageants had improved her self-confidence since a car accident in 2011 left her seriously injured.
"With pageants, it's all about improving women's confidence and it's a fantastic way to raise your confidence and make new friends," said Stephanie.
Ms Great Britain 2020 will be Stephanie's third pageant. She said: "The first pageant I took part in was Miss England and I won Miss Northamptonshire Charity winner (2018) and I then went on to win Miss Northamptonshire for Miss Great Britain (2018/19), where I came second in the public vote.
"Now I've been picked for the third time, [this time for] the first ever Ms Great Britain."
The Ms Great Britain finals will be held in Leicester in February 2020 and it is the first Great Britain pageant for the over 27s.
Stephanie said: "To win Miss Great Britain you have got to win Miss Charity, Miss Publicity and Miss Personality, [where] you have an interview with the judges and if you win Miss Charity you get a second interview. It’s the overall winner for all three categories."
Stephanie previously won Miss Northamptonshire Charity in her first ever pageant and said she has now raised more than £15,000 in total for charities through competing in pageants.
This year, Ms Great Britain competitors are raising money for Cancer Research UK and Alex's Wish, a charity set up by Emma and Andy Hallam in the name of their son Alex who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in April 2010 just before his fourth birthday.
The disease is rare and affects just one in 3,500 boys and causes muscle wasting, it is currently not curable.
Stephanie said raising money for charity is what first got her involved in pageants.
"I lost my dad in 2016. That was really hard and it all started from there, I wanted to raise as much money as possible since I lost my dad.
"He was suffering with headaches so he went to the doctors who said he had to go to hospital.
"They did a scan and he had a brain tumour."
Stephanie said they then discovered he had kidney cancer too and passed away not long after his diagnosis.
At the same time as her dad's diagnosis, Stephanie went for a cervical smear test and had abnormal results.
She said: "I had pre-cancer cells which was really scary but I had them removed and was fine and my last one was absolutely fine too.
"My friend went for a smear after I told her about mine and she had to pay to get her smear test done because she was 24 and she got an abnormal result.
"We have started to raise awareness, we have been trying to get the age limit lowered."
Stephanie also said pageants have helped her regain her confidence after she had a car accident in 2011.
"The car flipped three times, my friend was fine but I had six operations and I can't dance anymore.
"I had a shoulder dislocation but when they tried to put it back in, it snapped my bone and it also affected my collar bone so I had six operations on it."
Stephanie had a lot of injuries, including slipped disks in her spine, arthritis and now suffers from the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia.
"You get pain throughout your body and headaches, it's an awful thing. I get headaches that are really, really bad where I have to sit in a dark room. They're really bad, I get them every two weeks or so."
Stephanie said pageants had helped her recover.
"I never thought I would do a pageant and people do think bad things about pageants but I think if you do a pageant it will help with your confidence.
"I lost so much confidence, I thought I am never going to be able to do anything I wanted to ever again. It’s really helped."
Stephanie will be holding a coffee morning on Friday, October 25, at Balance Health Club, Kettering, and taking part in a loop the loop challenge with other finalists on Friday, November 8.
She previously hang-glided for charity but said: "It was absolutely terrifying, I said afterwards I am never, never doing anything like that ever again, it was so terrifying. I always said I would love to fly like a bird but I wouldn’t recommend hang gliding to anyone. This [loop the loop] will be a lot better."
More information about Stephanie's fundraising can be found on her Virgin Money Giving page, where you can also donate.