Why would anyone want to parade up and down a catwalk and have people stare at them? That is a question that lots of people ask and only the girls who participate can answer. As a child I entered the Cwmbran Carnival Rosebud competition and I won - looking back now at the video footage of the event - watching myself standing there in my little red dress waving to the audience at the congress theatre - it all seems such a long time ago. Yet even back then I loved every minute of it - from the competition itself to the carnival day procession. I went on to win the Rosebud title the following year, then as I got older I was a flower girl, then an attendent and back in 2002 I was the Jubilee Year Carnival Queen.
I have never considered myself to be model material - given that I'm not 5ft 10' the height demanded by most of the top model agencies - however I have been involved in acting since I was very young. One thing that all actors need is real-life experience so when I read about the Miss Great Britain competition - and saw the film Miss Congeniality - even I couldn't resist and sent off my application form expecting to be turned down. Surprisingly they didn't turn me down and after being judged on the photographs that I'd submitted - which were simply snaps taken in the back garden on the family camera - and a telephone interview I was given the title Miss Great Britain South Wales.
There was one draw-back however, I had to get a company to sponsor my application and sash or pay £200 myself. I was lucky enough to find a sponsor who paid for my sash and a dress however had to fund the London travel and accommodation myself.
It wasn't the most glamourous of venues - there wasn't a stage, the dance floor in the club was roped off so that the girls could walk around in a circle past the judges and then back off, and the audience had standing room only, yet it was still great fun. Needless to say I didn't win but did make a lot of friends.
I enjoyed myself so much that the following year I entered again and won the title of Miss Great Britain North Wales. A slightly bigger competition and venue that year. Channel 4 cameras were there following three contestants including Imogen Thomas - who later went on to win Miss Wales 2004 and become a Big Brother housemate in 2006 - for their breakfast show Rise.
The title that most welsh girls would love to win is Miss Wales - the competition is franchised out by the Miss World Organisation and until recently always seemed to be held in Rhyl. Until recently there was no financial cost to enter - now the girls have to raise £350 in sponsorship - and the final contestants are chosen by submitting photographs and attending pre-selection events. Don't even consider lying about your age or married status as they are very strict about this and you are likely to be asked to produce your passport on the night of the judging.
Miss Wales and Miss World competitions are not simply about judging beauty. They are alsoabout what they call 'Beauty with a purpose'. Raising money for charity is very important to the organisers and is something that they seem to do very well. Although the girls are competing for one title, donated prizes that are on offer and the chance to participate in an all expenses trip to the Miss World final, they are all very friendly.
Unlike my experience of the Miss Great Britain Competition - before the current organisers took over - the girls are judged on their personality, their intelligence and their looks.
If you ever get to ask the girls whether or not they feel that are being exploited they will probably reply no. They enjoy participating and get a great feeling taking part. They make lots of friends at the competitions and travelling up and down the country to get to the venues seeing different parts of the country makes it all worth while.
If you are thinking about entering beauty pageants there are a few things that it is well worth remembering:
Very few Beauty Pageants are free to enter and it can be an expensive business - dresses, travel, accommodation etc. all have to be paid for and unless you have a generous sponsor you will be expected to find the money yourself.
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015