Stagecoach Alumni, teacher and recently crowned Miss Bedfordshire, Justine Georgiou chats to us about fundraising, overcoming stage-fright and competing in the Miss England finals.
“A talented, sporty, photogenic charitable female who has modelling potential to represent the nation on a world stage!” is what the Miss World organisation is looking for, according to their website. Justine, who attended Stagecoach Chorleywood from the age of 8 to 17 and now teaches at Stagecoach Northwood, certainly seems to fit the bill.
Justine is quick to defend the Miss World competition from any preconceived ideas the general public might have about it, such as the image of beauty pageants presented in the 2000 action/adventure box office hit Miss Congeniality. “It’s not like that” Justine tells us. “Carina Tyrell was Miss England the year before last - she was at Cambridge University then and she’s a doctor now, so it just goes to show that Miss England is not just about pretty faces or good bodies. It’s about being charitable, being elegant and becoming a good role model.”
“I’m not your normal Beauty Queen” she tells us. “I don’t sit at home doing my hair and makeup or prancing around in bikinis”. Instead, Justine spends much of her time fundraising for the pageant’s charity, “Beauty with a Purpose”, which then distributes the funds raised to each country’s chosen charity. Variety, the Children’s Charity for sick, disabled and disadvantaged children is the chosen charity for England. “Because I teach children, it’s very close to my heart. I know the struggle of growing up and that’s why I think it’s such a good charity.”
Stagecoach is delighted to be sponsoring Justine through the Miss England competition and we are committed to helping her raise as much money as we can for Variety, the Children’s Charity. If you would like to support this worthy cause, click here to make a donation and please be generous! All donors will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win VIP tickets to the Stagecoach Summer Showcase on Saturday 12th August, including complimentary Prosecco and canapés.
Justine gives us the low-down on overcoming stage-fright, standing up to bullies and what life as a beauty queen is really like:
What inspired you to enter the Miss World Competition?
It’s not something I’d ever considered doing but I wanted to show people that you can do things that are out of your comfort zone. I like a challenge. If something is easy you lose interest straight away. I think the challenge is what keeps you on your toes.
Tell us a bit about your journey so far - How did you go from Stagecoach student to Beauty Queen?
I started Stagecoach when I was eight years old and I was a student there until I was 17, when my mum opened up her own Stagecoach, where I now teach. It’s given me the confidence to follow the dreams I now have my heart set on. Being a teacher, I can see the difference in a child from when they first come into my Early Stages class to when they leave for Main Stages. Many of the mums and dads see it too.
People think that children come to Stagecoach just to become a performer or a famous actress, but that’s not the case at all. It’s the same with the Beauty Pageant; it helps you to build your confidence. You’re not just there to prance around looking lovely in a gown.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I used to have really bad anxiety and had a phobia of being sick. I let my nerves ruin every opportunity I had. Since doing the pageants I’ve noticed how far I’ve come.
I went through hell with my anxiety and my phobia and I think that’s why I always felt so different from people. I would worry so much and then I got bullied too so I was upset from that. The only time I felt okay was when I was at Stagecoach and when I spent time with my Dad. He lives in Cyprus so I don’t get to see him often. My Dad and Stagecoach helped me forget about it because I was in a good, safe, happy place.
So do you still get nervous and if so, how do you handle it?
Yes, I still get so nervous it feels like my body is shutting down. I was in Gypsy Blood for the Summer Showcase and I’d feel sick and couldn’t calm myself down. But I would just breathe and think about happy things like relaxing on a beach. It’s normal to feel nervous but it’s about how you cope with it. You’re in that position for a reason – it’s because you’ve done well to get there. You’ve got to keep going because you’ll get used to it. After getting knocked back for four years of the Miss England Competition I got a bit down but I carried on. It’s all about determination.
What has been the most rewarding experience/aspect of the competition so far?
After four years of trying so hard and then finally being recognised for my charitable work and my resilience, personally that’s been so rewarding. I didn’t even think I was going to win, I just thought “let’s have fun”. It is important to me but you have to have fun while you’re doing it because if you take it too seriously it can knock you down.
Tell us about the Beauty with a Purpose charity - why should people donate to it?
Beauty with a Purpose is the Miss World charity. Each country raises money that gets distributed to the country’s chosen charity. The funds we raise in England are given to Variety, the Children’s Charity for sick, disabled and disadvantaged children. It’s a great charity.
About two years ago in Miss Hertfordshire we raised the most money - around £16k between 30 girls. The Miss Hertfordshire at the time donated the money to Lister Hospital in Stevenage to go towards life saving equipment. It’s lovely to be able to watch where your fundraising money goes. And it’s for children and they are the future.
I teach children, so it’s very close to my heart. I know the struggle of growing up and that’s why I think it’s such a good charity.
What makes a good Miss Bedfordshire?
You have to be fit and healthy because you’re a role model to young people.
I also have to be careful on social media. I try and give out as much positivity and motivation on my Facebook page as well as raising awareness for issues like bullying and body image. I want to be someone people can look up to. I’ve experienced bullying and it does lower your confidence. I still don’t feel like a person that fits in but I want people to know it’s okay to feel that way. It will pay off eventually.
In the future I would love to present children's TV programmes like ‘Justin’s House’. That’s my dream. I know I can do children’s presenting because I’ve been working with children for so long. I know how to speak to them, how to communicate and how to use my voice. For now, getting on the stage for Miss England is probably one of the most difficult things ever. You’ve got so many people watching, so many people judging but it also gives you strength. I think I’ll find out who I am as a person through how I react to the upcoming finals.
Who was your biggest inspiration growing up?
I know it’s a cliché but it’s my Mum and Dad. My Dad has a very motivational, supportive mentality. He’s my best friend - we speak twice a day. He doesn’t understand how I feel and how passionate I am about things but that’s where my Mum comes in.
Mum is someone who has been through hell and back and she’s so strong. And she has the best Stagecoach!
What advice would you give to current Stagecoach students looking to follow a similar path to you?
Having someone to support you is really good and does help. Follow your heart and do what makes you happy. Don’t give up. Don’t listen to people who try to knock you down - they are just afraid of doing it themselves. And my advice to those people who are knocking other people down - try something new.
You have to be different. That’s part of why people get chosen for Miss England or to represent a country - because they are different and they tried hard. That’s why those people who bully you are not on a stage.