Miss Scotland / Miss UK
She is a remarkable and determined young woman who just happens to be Miss Scotland. Just happens to have won Miss UK, and placed in the top twenty of Miss World in Sanya, China on December 19, 2015. All incredible achievements in their own right. But beyond the glamour and the glitz, behind the make-up and the smiles, there is another Mhairi Fergusson. A thoughtful, selfless and compassionate young lady who does the crown she holds great credit. Fortunately for us, she just happens to find time to speak to Ayrshire Magazine.
“It was very surreal,” Fergusson says of the night she won Miss Scotland. “I actually remember sitting down while Ellie (former Miss Scotland Ellie McKeating) was passing over the crown and just kind of looking because all my family and friends were there. You’ll see from the photos I just cannot stop smiling because it is such a special moment for me. I had put in so much hard work and effort and it paid off. It’s already six months, half way through my reign and I feel I have achieved so much.”
Mhairi Fergusson grew up in a little village called Blair Logie, near Stirling and was aware from an early age that her mother had once, herself, been a beauty queen. The Miss Scotland winner, however, lacked early confidence and thought she was destined to stay in the shadow of her mother’s achievement.
“I had always kind of known about Miss Scotland…because my mum was also Miss Young Scotland when she was 19,” Fergusson explained. “People would say oh your mum’s Miss Scotland, but I didn’t think I’d apply for it because I wasn’t superconfident growing up. Then I saw it across Facebook that entries were open, so I just thought…I’ll apply and I won’t tell anyone.”
Of course, winning the pageant kind of gave the game away, and this was only the start.
“(It’s been) incredible. I was crowned at the end of August and then in November I was going off to travel and I had to compete in Miss World,” Mhairi told Ayrshire Magazine. “Miss World is a massive thing, so that time was taken up by just doing a lot of multi-media work. I came back as Miss UK, and now I am just getting into the swing of things and focusing my energy on what I am going to do for the rest of the year, and what I will do as Miss UK.”
But the girl is not just beautiful, she also has brains, and 2015 was a busy year for her for academic reasons as well. In summer, she graduated after four years study at Glasgow Caledonian University.
“It was a great four years,” she enthused. “I got to go to America to study for six months which was amazing because I am quite passionate about travelling. I was studying International Fashion Branding, it was a cool course.” But, if winning Miss Scotland and Miss UK and graduating with a degree in International Fashion Branding were not enough, Mhairi Fergusson has plans to use her new found status to raise awareness of a cause very close to her heart. As Miss Scotland, Fergusson wants to enlighten the world about a condition which can, and often does, bring discrimination and stigma.
“I do want to incorporate a lot of travel while I am helping others most likely in the form of those who struggle with epilepsy,” she revealed. “I had my first seizure when I was 12 years old, and I was diagnosed with epilepsy just shortly after I turned 13. It is a global issue, I want to go to different countries and make links with places such as Malawi, so I am thinking that is somewhere I want to go to at some point this year.”
Across the world some 50 million suffer from epilepsy and those affected often have to struggle with the physical, social and sometimes economic consequences of the condition. Ms Fergusson has revealed that living with the condition has made her stronger, and feels that this is her opportunity to show what people can do if they believe in themselves. Winning Miss Scotland, she reckons, is an opportunity to show people what is possible.
“I would like to visit other countries and help other people as much as I can because I know I can relate to people who are struggling with epilepsy,” she told me. “People don’t want to speak about it..it’s kind of like breakthrough moments I’ve had with people who have said ‘I don’t really speak to my family and friends about this’. But, I’ve been through it and I know the stages and emotions and how tough it really can be, and that is the same worldwide. So, If I can help anyone in terms of how to deal with it, then that’s something very special to me because I had such a hard time.”
Fergusson, an ambassador for the epilepsy charity Muir Maxwell Trust, has plans for the future but she laughs when I ask her about them, and says, mischievously, she is not going to reveal them all. She does tell me, however, she is very keen to travel and help others. She also hopes to find herself a career in media and make use of her degree, but she has some advice for those considering following in her footsteps.
“If they are thinking about entering competitions like Miss Scotland then 100 per cent go for it,” She said. “Because I wasn’t confident in myself I didn’t tell anyone I was applying and then obviously I was crowned Miss Scotland. I put a lot of energy into the competition and I was just myself throughout. So if anyone is looking to apply just be you and let the best version of you shine through.”
That all sounds like solid advice to me from a very wise head, who just happens to be the most beautiful woman in Scotland, indeed the most beautiful woman in the UK!
Written By, Sergio Burns
Photography, ©Jeff Holmes