Psychology graduate Rachael Barker has been crowned as the new Miss Birmingham.
She was chosen from 24 finalists during a glittering ceremony at a packed out Crescent Theatre last night (Sunday, May 5).
The 24-year-old University of Birmingham graduate, who lives in Selly Oak, wowed the judges during four rounds on the catwalk, including with her dazzling dress made of CDs and DVDs in the final ‘eco wear’ round.
Rachael, who works as a healthy eating coordinator with schoolchildren across Dudley, will now compete in the prestigious Miss England finals taking place next month in Torquay. She obtained a degree in Psychology from the University of Birmingham in 2011, before going on to achieve a Masters with Distinction in Health Psychology from Coventry University in 2012. She was presented with the Miss Birmingham crown live on stage by the 2012 winner Kris’ina Jagpal.
Rachael said she was now looking forward to becoming a “role model” for Birmingham.
She said: “When they read my name and number out it was a bit of a blur and it was only when all the other girls turned round and looked at me that I realised I’d won.
“You try to imagine what you would do if you win but that all goes out of the window, I couldn’t believe it.”
She first entered the competition in 2009 shortly after moving to Birmingham from Evesham in Worcestershire, winning a special Miss Cancer Research title for her charity efforts. She said she decided to have another go at the competition this year as it was the last year she would be eligible.
“This year was my last chance because 24 is the age limit and, I know everybody says they want to make a difference, but I genuinely wanted to do something to make a difference, being a role model promoting healthy eating to young children, it has made me want to take that further and become even more of a role model.”
Two runners-up were also named on the night, second-placed Charlotte Machin, 19, from West Bromwich and third-placed Natalie Slaney, aged 18, from Willenhall, and were given the surprise news that they would now be entered into the Miss England semi-finals, taking place on May 25 in Hertfordshire. A variety of other prizes were also presented in other categories, including Miss Personality Birmingham, won by Charlotte Spiers, Miss Eco Birmingham, won by Sonia Shah for her butterfly-inspired dress, and MIss Popularity and Miss Charity Birmingham, both of which were won by Hattie Levett-Dunn.
Miss England director Angie Beasley, who was among the judges on the night, said: “We were really impressed with the standard of the girls. It was really difficult to choose a winner but Rachel really shone, literally as well in her eco dress of CDs.
“She’s a lovely girl and she’s got all the attributes to do well at Miss England. It’s not just about looks, we look for the whole package.”
Miss Birmingham 2012 winner Kris’ina Jagpal fought back tears on stage as she thanked organisers for an “amazing year,” before crowning her successor.
The Birmingham City University graduate, from Edgbaston, will start a masters degree in September and hopes to become a teacher, but said she would be continuing with modelling and working with the Miss England team as well.
“It’s been amazing, indescribable,” she said. “I got so emotional on stage, the whole journey has been a highlight. The winner has got an unbelievable year in store.
“The finalists this year were all really high level and everyone worked really hard, it was a tough competition.”