Marlborough’s Isis Flack, a former St John’s student has just been announced as a semi-finalist to the ‘Miss England’ beauty pageant, one step away from selection for the ‘Miss World’ crown which will be decided in Thailand later this year, or when the current pandemic permits.
To many the thought of a beauty pageant brings back memories of Eric Morley, Miss World, and maybe – if you’ve had a chance to see it yet – ‘Misbehavior’ starring Keira Knightly.
But longevity, popularity and success require evolution, and any event or organisation that can flourish, or even re-emerge must tap into contemporary culture and opinion, and Miss England appears to be doing just that.
“Inspired by a friend, Logan Ryklief who is studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Capetown in South Africa, she’s competing for Miss South Africa with the aim of pushing forward a campaign close to her heart – that of promoting a programme to develop clean water supplies to areas of Africa” explained Isis when asked what gave her the motivation to enter the contest.
“I was instantly intrigued, as there were a few causes that I had always held close to my own heart that I would have loved the opportunity to raise awareness on” she added, “I applied without telling anyone when I saw they were taking ‘Wildcard’ applicants – people they would fast track to the Semi-Finals. I honestly didn’t think I’d get picked, but screamed so loudly when I got the email telling me I’d got through you could have probably heard me in Manton!”
Whilst winning ‘Miss World’ is accompanied by a sizeable winning pot, the core of it lies with charitable work. Isis explains some of the background to the event and why it has stayed the course over the years. “In the last few years, the Miss England competition alone has raised over £1m for various children’s charities via the Miss World slogan ‘Beauty with a Purpose’.”
“Miss England, as well as Miss World most importantly open many doors for their top performing contestants to raise awareness and speak on a platform for the issues they truly care about. The current Miss England is Bhasha Mukherjee, who until recently had been overseas representing a handful of charities close to her heart, before she returned to work amid the coronavirus pandemic as an NHS junior doctor – her job prior to being crowned Miss England in 2019. The contest emphasises finding strong female role models to inspire other young girls to speak on issues that matter to them.”
“As soon as the announcement was made I started a fundraising programme” said Isis. “Currently, I’m running 5km a day for my duration in the contest, so basically until I win Miss England, or I’m eliminated, for the charities ‘Sight Savers’ and the Miss World fundraiser ‘Beauty with a Purpose‘ which aids disadvantaged children all over the world.
Why ‘Sight Savers’? “They encompass something I truly hold very dear. While going through my GCSEs and A-Levels at St John’s in Marlborough, I found out that I was progressively losing my sight, and would eventually become blind if I didn’t have urgent invasive surgery. I had to undergo three intensive six-hour operations on my eyes before I was blessed with the near perfect vision I have today. I went from being unable to see the leaves on trees, or watch rain fall, to being able to count those very same things. The charity Sight Savers provides life-changing cataract surgeries, as well as other sight treatments in areas where healthcare is either too expensive or access to it isn’t feasible.”
“As someone who has experienced losing their sight, I have felt how big the impact of being able to see again is, and cataracts especially is an avoidable disease that on average only costs £28 to fix, thus transforming someones life. Running has always been something I have loathed, so I thought what better a way to raise money than to do something that genuinely is very challenging for me! There’s been a few rainy days where I’ve had to do around 246 (not that I’m counting) laps of the kitchen, but for the most part I run around the Common. I’ve just finished day 13 in a row, and I’m gradually moving towards my target via my Virgin Money Giving page, and I’m posting daily updates of my progress on my instagram @isisflack.”
Key sponsors for Isis? “May sound like a bit of a plug, but Sticks and Stones in Woodborough will be sponsoring me during my Miss England journey.”
“Progressing to the Miss England Final would mean the world to me. It would be incredible to represent Wiltshire and especially Marlborough on a National and even Global level. To be able to represent and give back to such a memorable community would be an honour.”
What’s next? A Virtual Semi-Final on 31 July, livestreamed (‘voting’ tickets available from Miss England Website, with all the Semi-Finalists answering judges’ questions. The girl with the highest votes prior to the Semi-Final Livestream will be fast tracked a place in the Final, so it’s important to get the voting in as early as possible!
Then the final: an ‘in-person Final’ will be held at the end of October in Birmingham, the Miss England winner will then go on to represent England in Miss World.