A head for figures
If you thought beauty contests were just about ‘walking up and down and answering a few questions’, let us introduce you to Gloucestershire-based chartered accountant, Cherrelle Ford
Go on – admit it. You thought beauty contests were… well… a little one-dimensional. You’re not alone. Cherrelle Ford, a 26-year-old chartered accountant from Brockworth – and now a finalist in Miss England – thought exactly the same.
“There’s a misconception around pageants, and I had one myself: the idea that you just have to walk up and down and answer a few questions.”
But she’s rather changed her view since she applied for the contest this summer.
So let’s wind back a little. Cherrelle’s a professional through and through. At Chosen Hill School in Churchdown, she excelled at musical theatre. “I used to spend most of my lunchtimes in the music room in some sort of choir rehearsal,” she says. But she also excelled at maths. And when it came to choosing a career, she decided there was no contest: “I’d love to have gone into music but it was a very big risk. I’ve got friends who did, who have ended up out of jobs.
“Because I’d enjoyed maths at A level, I spoke to some family friends who were accountants. And I thought: if I go to uni and do a degree, I’ll end up with something versatile.”
As it happened, a week before she was due to start her course, Cherrelle secured an interview at Hazlewoods at Staverton and has worked there ever since, specialising in farms and estates. A job she loves.
But Covid has disrupted many-a-life this year. And it was when a worksecondment to Sydney was postponed because of the virus that she decided she needed an extra focus. Hence, applying to the Miss England Contest.
And here was the surprise. Instead of simply having to look the part, Cherrelle found herself participating in qualifying rounds that included making an outfit from recyclable bin bags; recording a talent video (“I sang Adele’s Someone Like You”); securing tree-planting pledges; and fundraising for good causes. She also opted to post a no-makeup photo on social media.
“It wasn’t so much about walking up and down on a catwalk and looking good. It was about doing things for charity, and trying to be a good rolemodel across the internet.”
The semi-final was extra nerveracking when live-streaming was disrupted by a thunderstorm – this is the first Miss England to be held ‘virtually’. But Cherrelle comfortably made it through to the finals which, Covid-permitting, will be held live in Birmingham at the end of October.
In the meantime, things are pretty busy. Now a chartered accountant, Cherrelle is in demand with the farm, estate and equestrian businesses she supports. “Mine is such a relevant industry, particularly with all that’s been going on in terms of Brexit and Covid. It’s a challenging time.”
She’s also determined to use her profile to explain to young people what a great career path accounting can be.
“I regularly take time out to attend career fairs at local schools, using the time to educate students about the profession itself and the importance of the finance industry.
“As a young female professional in a male-dominated industry, I have learnt the importance of confidence, networking and social skills. It is my goal to be a role model and empower young female professionals whilst increasing their knowledge of the industry.”
To find out how Cherrelle does in the finals of Miss England, keep your eye on missengland.info