England’s Miss World contestant ‘wants to go to space’

England’s Miss World contestant has said she “wants to go to space”.

Aerospace engineering graduate and Miss England Jessica Gagen is one of 120 candidates competing in India for the Miss World title.

During the pageant, the 27-year-old from west Lancashire said she wants to discuss decarbonising the aviation industry.

Meanwhile, Miss Wales, Darcey Corria, 22, wants to speak about food scarcity in her home country and others.

Dr Ivanna McMahon – a 28-year-old practising doctor, part-time model and Miss Ireland – plans to raise awareness about dyslexia and education.

Speaking from New Delhi on Tuesday, Ms Gagen told the PA news agency: “Obviously (with) Miss England, Miss World, people don’t expect the aerospace engineering to go with it.

“It really is drawing attention to it – a lot of people are like, wow, why would she do both? And it genuinely is because I can get more girls into the industry.

“I was always very interested in the vehicular movement in space, so not necessarily astronomy, but us getting to space.

“I want to go up to space and I want to conduct scientific research and help people on the ground.”

She said she was inspired to go to space after meeting British astronaut Tim Peake during her degree at the University of Liverpool.

Miss Wales said she broke her neck, jaw, pelvis and back in a car crash last year but hopes she will be able to participate in all areas of the pageant.

Ms Corria, a freelance model from Barry, said her mother entered her in Miss Wales when she was 16 years old, and told PA: “I didn’t really have any representation, especially in Welsh media.

Darcey Corria accident
Reigning Miss World Karolina Bielawska (centre), and the chairwoman of the Miss World organisation, Julia Morley, visit Darcey Corria in hospital (Miss World Organisation/PA)

During the debating section, she wants to discuss food insecurity, in part because she has “seen it first hand” in Wales and the UK, and during a trip to Ghana, west Africa.

She said: “People living in low income areas (in the UK) who are majority people of colour are really struggling – people are having to choose between rent (and) heating.

“Your next-door neighbour could be starving and you might not even know it.”

Dr McMahon, from Ennis, Country Clare, was diagnosed with dyslexia at 17 and uses her Miss Ireland platform to speak to children about education, and mental and physical health.

She travelled to India carrying a 30kg harp for the talent round, and also plays the drums, fiddle and harmonica.

She said: “Myself personally, as Ivanna McMahon, I have great things to say, but having the opportunity of having a platform as Miss Ireland does get people listening to you.

“You can achieve amazing things being dyslexic, it doesn’t hold you back.”

Miss World has removed its swimsuit round and now places greater focus on its Beauty With A Purpose section, which was launched in 1972 and looks at candidates’ charity work, organisers said.

The winner will work on humanitarian projects across the globe.

Previous Miss Worlds include top Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Lady Wilnelia Merced, who married the late Strictly Come Dancing presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth.

Notable contestants include American actress Halle Berry and Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh.

The Miss World winner will be announced on March 9 in Mumbai.

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