When Donna Nicholson, née Gordon, former Princess of Cricklade and Miss Swindon Cinema, was crowned Miss Thamesdown in 1978 at age 17, she could not have imagined that 33 years later her own daughter Josephine Logan would also win the title of Miss Wiltshire.
Josephine, 22, won the Miss Wiltshire competition last June, but has had rather a different experience than her mother had.
Donna said: “In those days beauty competitions were part of the mainstream society and Miss Thamesdown was organised by Highworth & Cricklade Round Table members who then coordinated most of my engagements during my year.
“I did a lot of fetes and events around the town, often accompanying the Mayor and his wife.”
In contrast Josephine has to do all of her own networking and promoting. “When my mum won beauty pageants were very popular, but they’ve gone out of fashion,” she said. “Nowadays I have to contact event organisers myself and ask if they’d like me to come along and help them promote it.”
While Donna’s experience was a lot more high profile, including meeting Eddie Kidd, performing for the Queen with Swindon Majorettes at Badminton Horse Trials, and dancing with disco group Imagination and soul singer Edwin Starr, her exploits were never as extreme as those of her daughter.
“I’ve just raised £741 for Prospect Hospice doing a sky-dive,” said Josephine. “It was an amazing experience, and I’m going to do it again in the spring.”
Josephine’s reign as Miss Wiltshire lasts until the end of May, though she has to balance her duties with three other jobs: teaching ballet and tap at Swindon Dance, working in a day care nursery, and helping coordinate the youth dance academy. I also run an after-school performing arts club and am a member of Ovation jazz dance group which won Swindon Talent 2011 and performed at the Christmas lights switch-on.”
Donna’s year as Miss Thamesdown coincided with her job as a commercial trainee at Square D electrical components firm. She said: “They were very generous with letting me have time off; it was such a fantastic chance to contribute to community life.”
She now works at Central Library where she meets many people who saw her on stage or at events during her year of fame.
Before entering the competition last year, Josephine was no stranger to publicity. “When I was ten I went to Majorca to appear in a Danone advert for German TV. And in the same year I had to balance a guinea pig on my head for GMTV’s Pets on the Brain.”
“But the regional heat for Miss England was my first competition; I really didn’t expect to win. I grew up knowing my mum had been Miss Thamesdown and had really enjoyed her role. She’s shown me her photo album and we’ve talked about what being a representative of your town is like; I thought I’d go for it.”
Donna admires the role pageant winners have taken on. “In my day it was a lot more glamorous without the need for the charity fundraising. But now it’s a great ideal, and can be a really good promotion for town. Miss Worcester for instance is involved with the race course and raises her profile that way. The girls who enter these days are not just dumb blondes; they really want to represent their area.”
Although Donna and Jo live in Woodhall Park, Donna grew up not far away in Blunsdon and was very involved in speedway. Her family have a long Swindon heritage: her grandfather was known as Danny the Cutter and used to deliver wood around the town.
And if that doesn’t sound enough like a fairy-tale character, Josephine loves dressing-up as a princess at nurseries and playing games with the children.
If you want her to add the magic touch to your event, or are looking for some help in promoting your charity, get in touch with Josephine: firstname.lastname@example.org or at Facebook: Josephine Logan: Miss Wiltshire 2011
All images: Richard Wintle including, bottom, Donna at her crowning in 1978 with Cheryl Hughes, Miss Thamesdown 1977
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