Published online only.
28 July 2016
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Miss England Final 2016 – Part 1 Report on this page by
Mark Lee. Photographs by
THE Floral Hall, within the Southport Theatre and Convention
Centre, was the most glamorous venue in the country this week when it hosted the
prestigious Miss England 2016 competition this week, the first time the pageant
has been held in Southport. The competition saw 50 hopefuls from all across the
country descend on the UK's classic resort competing to be crowned Miss England,
but it turns out that the modern competition is about much more than skin deep
We spoke to the current holder of Miss England, Natasha Hemmings, who gave her
thoughts on what it takes to become a thoroughly modern Miss England. Indeed the
term "beauty pageant" almost seems a little out-dated, and Natasha was keen to
stress that "inner beauty" is just as important, with contestants tasked with
raising money for charity during their campaigns amongst their many challenges.
Natasha believes that the current format "reflects the modern woman", as someone
who may indeed be beautiful, but is also defined by things like her career,
intelligence and compassion. She cited 2009 winner Corporal Katrina Hodge as a
key figure in this modernisation, for example she was instrumental in the
phasing out of the traditional swimsuit round from the competition.
As far as her own reign was concerned, Natasha stated that whilst she'd had an
amazing year as Miss England she felt ready to hand over her tiara so that
someone new could experience the journey. Having been there herself she knew
exactly how the contestants would be feeling and what they would be worrying
about, but revealed that whilst fiercely competitive, the dressing room is also
a very supportive place, with many of the girl's already firm friends who
support each other at the various regional contests.
Day 1 (Full
photo coverage in next issue)
The final itself was split over 2 days, with the 1st night on 20 July 2016,
featuring the Talent and Eco Fashion rounds which would begin the difficult
process of whittling down the 50 hopefuls to 20. The Floral Hall has arguably
never looked finer, and there was a packed crowd of well wishers, family and
friends on hand to cheer on the contestants. There was plenty of local interest
too, with our very own Miss Southport, Chloe Brown amongst the hopefuls, as well
as near neighbours Miss Liverpool, Molly Mcentee Morris and Miss Preston,
The Talent round really did demonstrate just how varied the contestants were,
with talents like equestrianism and acting showcased but also more left of field
skills such as Miss Staffordshire, Kim Jones who chose her role as a paramedic,
a worthy talent indeed. A few contestants also performed live which doubled up
as an entertaining musical interlude for the crowds, with show stopping
performances from Miss London, Whitney Martins and Miss York, Stephanie Hill as
well as an unexpected rap from Miss Preston which was only missing a mic drop!
The Eco Fashion round was themed around Classic British Fashion through the
Decades, testing the contestants thriftiness and creativity as they created
their own outfits from recycled materials and charity shop bargains. This round
was a real eye opener for me and I was genuinely impressed with the work that
had gone into these creations, including Miss Norfolk, Hannah Parsons with her
dress made from repurposed Norwich City shirts and Miss Worcestershire, Laura
Beth Morgan who cleverly incorporated Worcester Sauce crisp packets into her
outfit! There was also a real range of decades on show, and whilst iconic
fashion decades like the 80's and 60's were well represented there were also
Victorian inspired outfits on show, as well as ones inspired by the likes of
Jane Austen, Audrey Hepburn and, of course the Queen, who was the inspiration
for the winner of the round, Miss Sunderland, Jennifer Wilson.
This evening also saw the 10 winners of the Miss Top Model round selected, with
local salons Element5 and Signature given the honour of styling the contestants
hair. At the end of the first day one thing was clear, this would not be an easy
decision for the judges!
One thing that was really encouraging to see was that there was a real mix of
different body types and faces at the finals, there was only really two
contestants that had a typical "model" look which I think sends a really
positive message that you don't need to look a certain way or be a certain size,
even to be Miss England.
Thursday, 21 July 2016 was the Grand Final, and again the Floral Hall was decked
out in all its splendour, truly a worthy venue for the event. This was the night
that 50 would become 20, and ultimately one lucky winner would be crowned Miss
The evening opened with a video recap of all the contestants, and whilst there
was obviously great support for the North West contestants, there were also huge
cheers for the likes of Miss Derbyshire and Hertfordshire and it was fantastic
to see that friends and family had travelled so far to lend their support.
Proceedings really got going with the sportswear round, which replaced the
swimsuit round several years ago. This certainly got the crowd energised as the
girls bounced around the stage, however the real work has been done earlier when
the contestants were put through their fitness paces in a gruelling physical
bootcamp, however hosts, Jordan Williams and Sophie Lydia Smith were keeping the
result to themselves for the time being!
The rest of the rounds alternated between evening wear and the pick of the
previous night's talent hopefuls returning for a final showdown. The sedate
evening wear rounds were a stark contrast from the high-energy of the sportswear
section, and also gave host Jordan Williams an opportunity to showcase his vocal
talents; all we can say is Michael Buble better watch his back! The talent final
was supposed to be just 3 contestants, but compere Mark Darlington explained it
was simply too difficult for the judges and as a result the field was increased
Interspersed between the eveningwear rounds were repeat performances from Miss
York, Miss Preston, Miss Leicestershire, Miss Shropshire and Miss London who
pulled out all the stops and all managed to top their performances from the
The difficulty of the judges task was made apparent during their deliberations
to select the final 20, which saw former Mr England Jordan Williams tasked with
performing an extended musical set to fill the gap, and whilst he was possibly
running out of songs he did a great job of keeping the crowd engaged on a long,
The winners of individual rounds would be fast tracked into the final 20, these
were announced as:-
► Miss Beach Beauty, Miss Billion Dollar Smile, Miss
Publicity and also Miss Bolton, Lucy Physick.
► Miss Talent - Miss London, Whitney Martins.
► Miss Eco Fashion - Miss Sunderland, Jennifer Wilson.
► Miss Popularity - Miss Derbyshire, Jade Willis.
► Miss Beauty with a Purpose - Miss Worcestershire, Laura Beth Morgan.
► Miss Sportswoman - Miss Leeds runner up Pearl Susanne Davison.
► Miss Brainy Beauty - Miss Essex Emily Evans.
► Miss Top Model - Miss Hertfordshire Francesca Handley.
Miss Bolton's hat trick meant that there were 12 places up for grabs at the
judge's discretion, sadly local favourite Miss Southport, Chloe Brown, bowed out
at this stage, as did Miss Liverpool, Molly Mcentee-Morris, but there was still
a strong showing from the North in the final 20.
The judges then had the
unenviable task of reducing this down to a final 5 which was:-
► Miss Hertfordshire Francesca Handley.
► Miss Bolton Lucy Physick.
► Miss Newcastle Vicky Turner.
► Miss Preston Elizabeth Grant.
► Miss London Whitney Martins.
The final test was a question posed by Miss England 2014, Dr Carina Tyrell, a
real test for the girls who had to respond on the spot after 2 long days of
competition The questions centred around the contestants aspirations and
motivations, why they entered the competition, what they felt it means and what
they hoped to achieve if they won.
The tension of the final deliberation was eased by a stunning operatic interlude
from the outgoing Miss England, Natasha Hemmings before the final three were
revealed, with Miss Preston Elizabeth Grant being crowned a worthy Miss England
2016 ahead of Miss Newcastle and Miss Lancashire; a clean sweep for the North!
It was fantastic to see a neighbour wearing the sash and tiara and we wish her
all the best when she travels to Washington DC to compete in Miss World in
December this year.
Looking back this was a fantastic event for Southport that really showcased all
aspects of the town, from its Victorian heritage to fine dining and state of the
art facilities and we really hope the Miss England contestants and organisation
team enjoyed their time in the Town; hopefully we'll see you all again next
year, no matter the location!
We just got way to many to add this week, so are adding lots more in next weeks
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