Three weeks ago Baglan 21-year-old Sara Manchipp became Miss Wales 2011.
The former Neath Port Talbot College student can now look forward to a year of wonderful new experiences.
In her first major interview as a Welsh standard bearer – serialised here from today for five days – she tells Port Talbot Magnet that life’s not all about physical beauty.
Far from it.
Her Baglan-based grandparents Rosemary and Gareth have had a massive influence so far and are likely to continue as a strong force as she progresses through life.
Their ethos is one of rare humanity. They have been foster parents for more than 20 years – since as far back as Sara can remember. As role models go, she couldn’t hope for any better.
Sara grew up in Baglan with mum Eira who still lives there. Other close relatives include 16-year-old brother Garin who’s awaiting GCSE results from Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera – Sara’s former secondary.
Sara’s other grandparents, Marlene and Peter Manchipp, have also been positive influences in her life. Peter died last year but Sara knows how proud Grandpa would have been of her achievements.
For more than two years, Sara has worked in the Swansea city centre branch of global snacks chain Subway. She’d like that to continue but acknowledges that time pressures with university and Miss Wales duty could have a knock-on effect.
It was only in March, incidentally, that she took the Miss Neath Port Talbot title at the Princess Royal Theatre to qualify for Miss Wales. In three months’ time she’ll be back on stage, this time for the Miss World pageant. And she promises to take with her a wholeheartedly positive message about her home town.
Go for it, Sara – pob lwc!
Q: Sara, well done on winning the title Miss Wales 2011 – you must be chuffed. Tell us about your aspirations for the year ahead.
A: Well, I feel strongly that knowledge and success go hand in hand so the thing I’m most looking forward to right now is getting my A level results next month. I studied psychology, communication and culture, and the Welsh Baccalaureate at Neath Port Talbot College and I’ve got a conditional offer to study at Swansea Metropolitan University. I need grade C’s but I’m hoping – with fingers crossed – that I’ve done much better than that because I tried really hard. At one point I locked myself in my room for a week and a half, getting rid of Facebook and all those other things that can distract you! Yes, I’ve won Miss Wales but you can’t base your future on the way you look because looks fade with age. Intellect and education are gifts that stay with you for life. Schooling has always been very important to me; my family have always stressed how education is important and I’ve taken that on board. Education is the most important thing to me. At the Met my course will be psychology with counselling; I’m fascinated by the psychological aspect of understanding people’s behaviour and especially the cognitive part of the subject.
Tomorrow “I’d love to work with youth offenders. It’s a role that has the capacity to transform lives for the better and to deliver job satisfaction.”