Another year is flying towards its end and another Miss Ballito has been crowned! It’s no wonder that 23-year-old Shelley Buckle pocketed the 2013 Miss Ballito title — with her easy-going nature, kind heart, beauty and a whole lotta brains to boot, Shelley was a shoe-in for the crown! Having interviewed Shelley earlier this year about her past achievements — like winning the title of Miss Deaf SA in 2011 — FabMags was delighted to see her add another title to her list of successes.
The crowning, which took place on Friday, September 13, saw a rather bewildered, but delighted, Shelley take home the crown at what is always a spectacular event, which was held at Collisheen this year. Standing by her side after winning the titles of First and Second Princesses were local girl Tiffany Gore and Nozipho Msweli. The Miss Ballito pageant is not, however, only about glamour and glitz and this year raised a hefty R126 000 for local charities.
Now, a month later, we called in to see how Shelley is doing after her Miss Ballito experience and to find out how she plans to use her title.
· What made you enter the competition?
I entered because I wanted to prove to myself that, despite being deaf, I was capable of competing in a competition like this! This was the first hearing pageant that I had entered and it was a challenge I wanted to face. I also saw that the Rotary Club of Zimbali was involved and, together with them, I wanted to help make a difference. The benefits of entering were the great new friends that I made and the amazing life skills that I gained.
· Did you believe that you could win?
I believed that I could win if I just stayed true to myself. Honestly, it was all about having fun, making new friends and changing the lives of others through community service. Winning was an added bonus and meant that I could use the title as a platform to inspire others to follow their dreams, no matter what obstacles may get in their way. I thought that every one of the contestants was a winner… they all had something unique about them and, together as a team, we did amazing work!
· You have been involved with many pageant competitions. Is there anything that you have taken from this experience that you hadn’t found at any of your previous pageants?
Since this was my first hearing pageant, I was around people who were all so confident and bubbly. I started to gain skills in public speaking and how to project myself. We had a cocktail evening where we had to introduce ourselves to the audience which really brought me out of my shell and forced me to put my shyness aside.
· What was the overall experience like?
The experience was amazing! We got to plan a community day for an orphanage and even went to the Flag Animal Farm with them. It was incredible to see the kids’ faces light up and to know that you’d left them with a special memory is something that I will never forget!
· What do you believe made you stand out from the rest of the girls and ultimately win the title of Miss Ballito 2013?
I didn’t try to be someone that I was not and I really put my heart into every activity/function that we did. I think that believing in myself prepared me for this pageant.
· Going forward, what are you, as the titleholder, going to do for Ballito?
I want to promote Ballito and the North Coast as a tourist destination. Ethekwini is only focused on Durban and is unaware of how beautiful Ballito and Umhlanga really are!
I would also like to get involved in charity work and to strive to give underprivileged children the life that they deserve. No one’s education should be taken away from them simply for financial reasons.
· What do you love most about Ballito?
I love the beaches, the people, the laid-back vibe and the weather!
· Any advice for future contestants looking to take home the title?
Always stay true to yourself, put others first and always perform to the best of your ability.
· So what is next for you? Any other pageants in your sights?
For now I’m going to focus on my title as Miss Ballito 2013 and try to be an inspiration to others. I am eyeing the Miss South Africa title, but I will see what God has planned for me… He may have some other surprises in store for me!