A Level student crowned Miss South Wales
17-year-old Cardiff and Vale College student Theresa Ashley, who was born with a condition that left her without central stomach muscles, has been crowned Miss South Wales and runner-up in the Miss Wales competition 2012.
The Cardiff and Vale College A Level student, who is studying English Literature, Psychology and A2 Religious Studies, was born four weeks premature with a condition known as Gastroschisis. She had to endure an operation which left her in intensive care for six weeks and without central stomach muscles until the age of twelve, when she had another operation to bring her stomach muscles together. Despite this, Theresa has never let the condition hold her back and as a youngster she represented Wales as an elite gymnast in British competitions.
Theresa, who was born and bred in Cardiff, was crowned with the Miss South Wales title earlier this year. “It was a bit of a shock,” she said. “Normally the top three to five of the regional rounds just go on to compete for the overall Miss Wales title, but a day or two after the competition I received a letter from Vibe, the competition sponsor. The letter explained that this year they had decided to give out the titles of Miss South Wales, Miss Mid Wales and Miss North Wales.
“It was such a pleasant surprise to win the Miss South Wales title and I would like to use my title to empower young women and men to follow their dreams. I would like to encourage other people to enter similar competitions as they really are life-changing.”
Theresa then went on to compete against 46 other young women in the Miss Wales Final, which was held at St David’s Hall in Cardiff, where she was crowned the first runner-up. She said:
“Being first runner up in the Miss Wales Competition was a dream come true.The competition has really inspired me and I can’t tell you how much it has improved my self-confidence.I was so surprised when my name was called out as the first runner-up. I decided to just give it my all and whatever will be will be. I'm so proud of myself for getting as far as I did, and I know I couldn't have done it without the love and support of my family and friends.”
In the months leading up to the competitions, Theresa hosted events raising money for The Joshua Foundation; a charity that organizes holidays and experiences for children with terminal cancer. With her fellow Miss and Mister Wales contestants she also took part on in an empowerment day where all the contestants were taught how to break boards with their hands.
Theresa, who volunteers at St Albans Nursing Home, hopes to attend a Welsh university in September to study Psychology and have a career in the care industry, following in the footsteps of her parents. She said: “I see the look on my mum’s face when she has come home from a long day in work and she’s exhausted but still so happy, because she knows that she has really helped someone, and every day that person will be improving. I want to help people live their lives to the fullest.”
Theresa added: “Through seeing how much my lecturers at college have supported me through Miss Wales, I know that no matter what I choose to do in life, whether that be entering another pageant, going to university or going for a job interview, Cardiff and Vale College will help, prepare and support me the whole way.”