Big Issue: Being Miss Gloucester has changed my life
Miss Gloucester - Lauren Phelps, 18, from Podsmead, explains how winning the title has changed her life:
IT'S surprising where life takes you when you least expect it.
All the turns of events leading up to that one moment – the good, the bad and everything in between; suddenly all become worth it because without them you wouldn't be where you are today.
Becoming Miss Gloucester 2013 has been a rollercoaster ride to say the least and it's a path I never considered choosing when I thought of how my life would pan out.
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I always thought that when I leave college I'd get a job in journalism, work my way up the ladder, until one day I could afford a pretty house complete with dog and Audi R8 on the drive.
But instead I found myself handing out CVs, being told I didn't have enough experience, and worrying my life would go nowhere and that the media was a tough old industry that wouldn't even get close enough to my foot for me to put it in the door.
Just when the panic set in, there it was, a conveniently placed Miss England 2013 stall. After a long day at work I thought: "Why not? It'll be a fun experience and there's no harm in trying."
That day I was so nervous that I considered not even turning up, but it was faithful dad who had one of his premonitions and told me: "I've got a feeling you're going to win this."
Word to the wise, dad is never wrong, and little did I know a room full of people would think I was worthy to be Miss Gloucester 2013! So, for a girl who'd never won anything, I'd hit the jackpot.
So here I am now, and busy doesn't begin to cover it.
It feels like I've come so far already in such a short space of time.
I've turned on the Christmas lights in the town centre, completed a 3.9-mile run for charity, taken part in a winter catwalk at Gloucester Quays, helped a little girl feel like a princess, and got my size four wedged in that door.
I look forward to where life will take me next, because you never know what's around the corner. But what is important is that you work hard, enjoy every moment, and stay yourself… so yes, I do still have to hoover my room and help my mum around the house, but now I do it wearing a tiara.