AFTER being crowned Miss Penarth in 1991, this 53-year-old beauty queen has made a comeback and is now preparing for the Miss Great Britain 2021 title.
Laura White, now 53, was once a finalist for Miss Great Britain in 1989, as well as being the last woman to take the title of Miss Penarth.
Now living just north of Leominster, she said her heart is always in her home of Penarth, where her children were also born – Rhys, 24, and Erin 20.
Her daughter was also won Miss Teen Great Britain in 2016, and went onto start in the BBC reality show ‘Heartbreak Holiday.’
Now, 30 years later, after a new title was opened this year for women over 40, Mrs White decided to give it another go.
The final will take place on Friday, September 17 at The Athena in Leicester.
“I’ve been to watch it a few times in the past – never dreaming that one day I’d be back up on the stage myself,” she added.
“When I was competing in beauty contests during the 80s and early 90s they were just that – very little was expected of the girls other than to just turn up for the competition and look pretty.
“Now that’s all changed – the name for a start.
“The word ‘pageant’ is relatively recent and encompasses so much more than just physical beauty.
“The contestants get much more involved in community work and charity fundraising than we ever did back then.
“For example, in the run up to Miss Teen Great Britain with my daughter we raised over £4,000 for a children’s hospice.
“Pageants are also much more inclusive today. In my day you had to be young – usually under 24 – single, slender and not a mother.
“Now more pageants have dropped these rather outdated rules and embrace a wider age range, married, mothers and curvy girls.
“There’s a pageant for everyone these days which is a great thing as no one is excluded from the experience.
“I ‘retired’ from competing when I got married at 23, so that was the end of that as there weren’t competitions for older married women.
“I started a family and went to university as a mature student and did a teaching degree. I never dreamed that I’d be getting back up on stage again at 53.
“I’m thrilled to be having another chance to get back on the Miss GB stage. If you’re going to make a comeback it may as well be a big one.
“I always advise that if you really want to achieve something you’ve set your heart on you should never give up trying. So I’m taking my own advice – it’s just taken over 30 years!”
When reflecting upon winning Miss Penarth, she said she was unaware that another one would never be held again.
“Some people were calling for beauty contests to be banned for being ‘sexist and outdated’, so Penarth Town Council bowed to public pressure and never held another one.
“I think it’s a shame because lots of girls really enjoy competing and having the chance to be an ambassador for their area.
“But I’m actually thrilled that I’m still Miss Penarth after all these years. It gives me a lovely nostalgic feeling.
“I had thought I may try and organise a new style Miss Penarth pageant if I can find a sponsor. It would be great publicity for Penarth.”
Preparation for the contest next month has already begun, which Mrs White said has given her a “new lease of life”.
“There’s nothing like the thought of being on stage in front of hundreds of people in a swimsuit at my age to motivate you to keep fit and healthy!
“I’m really excited to get the chance to get dressed up and hit that stage. I’ll be wearing one of my daughters dresses too!
“I’m quite nervous though as it’s been a while but I’m hoping the old style pageant adrenalin will keep me going.”
Mrs White is sponsored by Giovanni Malacrino of Giovannni’s Restaurants, and the Miss Great Britain official charity partners are Cancer Research UK and Alex’s Wish (curing Duchenne), who she is also raising money towards.
“I’ve helped to organise a few charity events with a friend Debbie Hughes who is competing alongside me,” she said.
“I’ve set a target of £1,000 and Giovannis has kindly offered a prize of a meal for two, which I’m raffling towards my target.”