Sioned Murphy is 21 years old, in her second year of studying Business Management at Cardiff University and currently working in Robotics on an internship. With over 2000 women applying to take part in Miss Wales, she is delighted to have made it to the final 37, representing her hometown Cardiff.
We spoke to Sioned about her experiences in the competition thus far and the stigma surrounding pageantry.
I have always enjoyed new experiences and challenging myself to do things that put me out of my comfort zone but after a solo trip around South-East Asia and China at 19, I did not think the next adventure would be Miss Wales.
Last summer, there was one evening after work where I was aimlessly scrolling through my phone and I came across an advertisement with the slogan ‘Beauty with a Purpose’. At this point, I did not realise it was linked to the world of pageantry. After a bit of research, I realised the advert was promoting an opportunity for Welsh women to embark on a journey of personal development and the chance to get involved with social enterprise by becoming an ambassador for the Miss World charity Beauty with a Purpose.
Miss Wales has been running since the 1950s and later partnered with Beauty with a Purpose, which was set up by Julia Morley in 1972. Since then, the pageant has prided itself on providing a platform for like-minded women to come together and work on projects that make a difference in the community. Since 2004, Miss Wales has raised over £500,000 which has been distributed by Beauty with a Purpose to Welsh-based charities.
Given I had never taken part in a pageant or any related work before, going into the interview was really stepping into the unknown. Pageants have always received mix press, being typically associated with a display of exuberance and lavish events – but the reality has proven that this is far from the truth.
Over the last couple of months, the contestants and myself have been attending charitable events, organising fundraising activities and raising awareness of causes alongside studying at university or working full-time. As we are representatives of a charity and the wider community, there is an expectation to present and carry ourselves well, but I think this is something most people endeavour to do in any professional field they enter.
In October, I attended my first charitable event at Cardiff Castle which was organised by Miss Wales and hosted by the charity Dreams and Wishes, which supports seriously ill children by providing them with experiences that allow them to regain a bit of normality back in their lives. It was witnessing the simple joys the children had of party rings, music and Halloween stories that confirmed how using this platform to raise money can go a long way.
Since then, I have made it my mission to raise funds where possible and I am really pleased to have raised over £400 and counting. I look back and laugh at some of my fundraising experiences. On New Year’s Day myself and two other finalists decided to climb Pen Y Fan – but due to severe fog, we went up the wrong peak first, scrambling around for the infamous sign.
A highlight for my housemates was certainly pouring 5 litres of green gunge over me to raise awareness of Neuroblastoma, but I think my funniest moment was being asked by two police officers why I had so many ceramic llamas strapped into my car seats, which forced me to explain I was handing them out to students in my area to collect unwanted change for the charity.
In March, I have some more fundraisers to look forward to including a 10 hour spinathon, a charity fundraiser evening along with the other Cardiff contestants and a skittles night with close friends and family at my local rugby club.
As finalists, the money we raise in no way impacts our position at the final but I think for most of us, it is a really positive way to make use of this experience and have fun with it. At the final we will be dressing up for the occasion, but I see it as a celebration of what we have achieved, our sisterhood and how we have grown as individuals.
Without a doubt, this experience has helped me to develop a confidence I never knew I had, including public speaking which I now really enjoy; just being able to use my voice to positive effect is an indescribable feeling. I hope that this helps to inspire young people that any potentiality is a possibility once you take that first leap as I did by walking into that interview. On reflection, I think there is a growing pressure on our generation to do out of the ordinary things and strive for perfection. I think it is easy to underestimate the fundamentals of self-belief and wellbeing to take on new experiences and we should turn our attention to these to change that ‘I can’t’ or ‘I could’ to an ‘I can!’
Click here to donate to Sioned’s Fundraiser!
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