It may be 15 miles inland, but the village of Donington near Boston is now home to Britain’s best ‘mermaid’.
Laura Hudson - aka Mermaid Twinkle - beat off competition from 18 other British hopefuls to be crowned Miss Mermaid UK.
The 29 year-old fashion graduate is now keeping her ‘fins’ crossed as she prepares to fly to Egypt on March 31 to compete in the international final of the pageant.
“It was a complete shock to hear my name announced as the winner for England and realise I was heading off to Egypt,” said Laura.
“To be crowned as the overall UK winner and receive additional prizes was astonishing as someone coming from a little village in Lincolnshire almost no one had ever heard of.”
To win the crown, Laura had to compete against the 18 other ‘mermaids’ in the Miss Mermaid UK pageant, with underwater photoshoots and a 75m distance swim in costume. She then took to the stage to model beach wear, an ‘eco costume’ and evening gown. This was followed by talent rounds.
In her mermaid role Laura has discovered she has a natural ability for holding her breat underwater (apnea) - and is comfortable swimming with a variety of sea creatures - including sharks.
“I only took to the water for the first time in June at ‘Mermaid Camp’, organised by Hire a Mermaid UK,” said Laura. “And it became clear quite quickly I had a natural ability in apnea - completing my level 2 free diving qualification in the open water, and gaining my level 3 in the pool and theory. I have a current dynamic PB of 75m length, and a static breath hold of 4m 35s. I’m hoping will be over the five minute mark when I take to the water the next time.”
Laura was also invited by Sea Life in Manchester to perform in one of their big tanks alongside the rays, sharks and sea turtles.
“It was an experience I’ll never forget,” she said. “I have since been back for more appearances, as well as our first visits to Skegness Aquarium during half term alongside Nudge the zebra shark.”
She added: “The Miss Mermaid UK pageant raised over £3,000 for the Marine Conservation Society, which was a massive achievement for the competition, having only been in its second year of running. We are all enormously proud of our collective fundraising efforts and raising awareness of the importance of recycling and protecting our seas.”
Laura says she is hoping to ‘follow in the footsteps’ of Laura Siddall who brought the International crown home last year.
“I’m keeping my fins crossed that it really is all in the name,” she said. “I want to do my very best for the UK and I have a lot of work ahead of me in these final weeks. I have a lot of costumes to make, as we get points for creativity, which, with my fashion degree, I hope to score highly in.
“We have our underwater photoshoot in the Red Sea, although we only have one chance to hold our breath to catch it, so I’m hoping to use my recent aquarium experiences to my advantage to capture a great pose.”
For one of the costume rounds, Laura is hoping to create and model an outfit inspired by the Union Jack.
“If I can pull off my idea and make it in time, it should be a show-stopper,” she said.
“As part of the competition’s ethos, Laura has been promoting ocean conservation and local tourism back in Lincolnshire.
“We visit local markets to help family businesses, see school children to make their dreams of meeting real-life mermaids come true, and also take part in beach clean-ups.” she explained. “This is something I’m hugely interested in, and should be working closely with the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust this year for some new projects they have in the pipeline.”
The live final be streamed on the Miss Mermaid International Facebook page.
Laura added: “There’s stiff competition this year. To win would be the dream.”