A PRESTATYN woman who won a national pageant in March will represent the UK in an American event next year as she continues raising money for a charity close to her heart.

Grace Smithen, 30, was crowned Miss Elegance of the World UK 2021 in March, and will now compete in the Miss Global United States pageant in Florida next July.

Grace, who will also be a judge at the Miss Elegance of the World UK 2022 pageant in Blackpool, has raised more than £3,000 for Cancer Research UK in the last 18 months in various ways, including the pageants.

She said: “My boyfriend’s best friend was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer in 2018. He was only 30. Unfortunately, it was too late and it was terminal, so we lost him. It was a really hard time.

“That’s why I entered the (Miss Elegance of the World) pageants, because I wasn’t in a good place at the time and it gave me a reason to do things. We lost him at the end of January 2019 and I joined the pageant a couple of months later. I wanted to do it in his memory.”

This year’s Miss Elegance of the World UK pageant was Grace’s first experience of a virtual event; given the COVID-19 restrictions at the time, it proved impossible to stage it in person this year.

Having to film everything herself at home was, admittedly a challenge, but it made her no less delighted when she was crowned the winner.

She added: “I couldn’t believe it when my name was announced. I was so happy; I couldn’t stop crying.

“We had to film catwalks at home and send videos in. It was harder because you had to do literally everything at home.

“Normally, you have a judging panel that you meet and talk to about everything you’ve done, and I couldn’t do that. Instead, I had to send a video answering questions, so I found it a lot harder.”

Originally from London, Grace graduated with a degree in dance and moved to Prestatyn in February 2019, when she began her current role as a cast dancer at Presthaven Sands Holiday Park.

She has always been incredibly involved in fundraising, organising events and raffles to raise money for charities including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Macmillan.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she also helped donate Easter eggs to staff at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Rhyl on behalf of Presthaven Sands.

Grace also has a fundraiser page which you can donate to by visiting: www.fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/grace-smithen.