A music student who swapped her flute for a frock and impressed pageant judges with her fundraising has won a national competition.
Rebecca Lancashire, who grew up in Hemel Hempstead, was crowned Royal UK Miss last weekend – the first pageant she has entered.
The 20-year-old, who went to Longdean School and then Ashlyns School, will go on to represent the UK at the Royal International in Florida next year.
“I feel it has changed my life for the better,” said Rebecca, who is studying music at the University of Hull.
“I never thought I would win something like this and it’s amazing I have done so.
“It’s a great thing to get involved with. It’s done so much for my confidence and I’ve met some amazing people.”
Rebecca plays the piano and the flute and is hoping to continue studying music with a masters and a PhD. Throughout the pageant process, she raised £1,500 for the mental health charity Mind.
And Rebecca is keen to continue her work beyond the grand finals, which were held at The Savoy in Blackpool.
“I am going to be getting involved with the local community as much as possible,” she said.
“With Hull being the City of Culture next year, I want to work with young women on issues surrounding body confidence and body image to help erase the stigma surrounding the media portrayal of pageantry and the ‘ideal body’.
“I want to help smash the stigma surrounding mental health issues.”
Rebecca, who has done several magazine shoots including bridal wear and evening gowns, has been stunned by the reaction since her victory.
But after several wardrobe malfunctions, she was delighted just to make it to the event.
She said: “After all of the dramas before departing for the hotel, I can honestly say it only made me more determined to give my absolute all.
“I didn’t tell many people but then Facebook blew up when pictures were posted. I’ve had 40 new friend requests. Even my mum found out on Facebook – she was quite shocked.”
Rebecca also received awards for most appearances at events and most money raised for charity.
“A lot of people think it’s about getting dressed up and doing catwalks. But there is much more to it than that.”