Paris’ hopes to help homeless

Paris Townley in the Amazing Graze Community Cafe, Blackpool
Paris Townley in the Amazing Graze Community Cafe, Blackpool
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Student and pageant contestant Paris Townley is determined to prove beauty is not just skin-deep.

Paris, of Blackpool, is through to the finals of the Miss North West competition, being held on Sunday, at The Sands Venue, Blackpool.

The 17-year-old also recently took part in the Miss Lancashire contest.

As part of the run-up the competition, Paris – who is studying sociology, English language and medical science at Blackpool Sixth Form College – started to get involved with fundraising for charity and community work.

She has now got the bug for helping in the community, volunteering at the Amazing Grace soup kitchen in Blackpool.

Paris is planning a fundraising car wash and a raffle to raise money for the Variety Children’s Club charity – the Miss North West competition’s chosen charity and has been busy getting her outfits ready for the big event – as well as helping out at the soup kitchen and helping launch its Christmas Shoe Box appeal.

She said: “I’m looking forward to the competition, but am really nervous.

“I really enjoyed taking part in Miss Lancashire. The other girls were lovely, they were so friendly and I’ve made some really good friends. It really helped boost my self-esteem and confidence.

“There are five rounds in the final, one of which is an ‘eco’ round. I have created a Gladiator outfit, using recycled materials – items such as tinfoil, cardboard.

“I’m hoping to do some work with schools and go in and talk to the children about self-esteem, about not following stereotypes and about beauty being more than skin deep – not judging people on their appearances.

“And I’ve been volunteering at the Amazing Grace soup kitchen, which I love. It really brings things home to you and puts things in perspective.

“I didn’t realise there were as many local homeless people, you see homeless people on TV, but you don’t think about it until you meet people who have no home.

“It was quite a shock. One man I was talking to was telling me about how he used to have a good job and family, but he had an alcohol problem and he lost everything.

“And it’s not just food, shelter, or money people need, it’s support and emotional help.

“Mark, who founded the soup kitchen, asked me if I would like to kick off their shoe box appeal, which I was delighted to do.

“I’ve already been going round shops asking for shoe boxes, the Shoe Market were great giving me boxes, I have already filled some with toiletries, snacks and little gifts and have been putting up as many posters as I can to get others involved too and get the message out.

“These little things can make a big difference to people.

“Last year, I think Amazing Grace collected around 100 shoe boxes, which was enough for homeless and disadvantaged people in Blackpool, but this year we would love to collect more and be able to expand it to other local areas.

“I’ve also been supported through my fundraising by Abi Butcher, at Abzsolute Beauty, nails and tanning.”

Mark Butcher, founder of the Amazing Grace soup kitchen, said: “We are mightily encouraged by Paris and her passion to help people less fortunate then herself, she stands as a fabulous ambassador for us.

“We serve about 15,000 meals a year and have three meetings a week in different churches in Blackpool. Our team of about 30 volunteers offers help, friendship and food to anyone in need.

“The Shoe Box Appeal was wonderfully received last year – particularly the cards and letter within.

“We will be asking a local celebrity to come down on Christmas Day to hand out the boxes.”

You can support Paris by searching for Vote Paris Townley for Miss North West 2015 on Facebook or texting Miss North West 36 to 63333.