A 21-year-old student from Greenwich has bagged herself a spot in the final of Miss England 2022.
Leah Carter-Welch, who has a second dan black belt in jujitsu, will be competing for the title of Miss England 2022 this October.
The final of the renowned beauty pageant is set to be held on October 16 and 17 in Birmingham - where Leah and her fellow competitors will take part in a series of interviews and multiple cat walks over the course of two days.
Leah first realised she wanted take part in a pageant after watching Netflix’s coming-of-age comedy film Dumplin’ with her mum in the summer of 2021.
Leah and her mum were in awe of the Americanised glam of the pageant world shown in Dumplin’ and decided to search for similar pageants happening in the UK.
After finding the Miss England competition online, Leah thought it would be a fun idea to apply – but she was aware of the risks that she may not be accepted.
Leah told the News Shopper: “I was so surprised, but I heard back from Miss England so quickly and I was entered into the first heat of Miss England 2022.
“This was when it was a public vote, and then the judges chose certain people to take part – which I qualified for.
“During the end of August, we had the semi-finals and I managed to pull it through.
“Now I’m in the final.”
To obtain her spot in the final, Leah had to take part in a range of compulsory and optional tasks – including publicising the event, supporting the pageant on social media and raising money for charity.
Although beauty pageants may have the stereotype of ball gowns, glitz and glamour, Leah’s chose her charity event to be quite the contrary.
She explained: “We had to work with the Beauty with a Purpose charity organisation.
“For mine, I organised a self-defence class for women.
“So basically, people would pay as much as they would like, and I taught them ways to help women feel safe – the money would then go to the Beauty with a Purpose charity.
“I also took part in the bare face model round, which is where I had to send a photo to judges with no make-up.
“Other rounds include a smile round, talent round, sports round and bikini round.”
The upcoming challenge Leah is due to take part in is the charity ball race – where contestants have to buy a gown from second hand charity shops that they can wear at the finale.
Apart from taking part in the well-sought beauty pageant, Leah is a full time student studying for a teaching qualification at Brunel University.
She says the pageant challenges are a “fun distraction” amongst the study time and has made sure to balance her school work and pageant work since entering Miss England.
She explained: “I felt overwhelmed when I started the competition, I was watching all of the other girls take part in challenges and I questioned if I was even able to do it.
“But I did manage, and I found the time to finish everything.
“I have found the whole experience so enjoyable - the other day we were asked to a casting for London Fashion Week, and it was just an unreal experience.
“I would never have got the chance to do something like this without doing this competition.
“So, no matter what happens, I've had so many good experiences and opportunities that have come from this already.”
The winner of Miss England 2022 receives a cash prize, donated gifts, and a month’s holiday to compete in the Miss World pageant – the oldest-running international beauty pageant.
Leah said: “Thousands of people entered the competition, so even getting to the final is unbelievable for me.
“I’m so chuffed of myself for even getting here.
“Don’t get me wrong, I would really love to win the entire competition and I’ll be trying my absolute best at the final.
“But all of the girls here are working just as hard as me – we’ve all taken part in so much – so whoever wins deserves the crown.”