HARTFORD student Annaliese Chloe Jones is fulfilling a long-held ambition to take part in one of the country’s biggest beauty pageants.

The 21-year-old, who studies education and fine art at the University of Chester, is one of the finalists of the Miss Cheshire contest which takes place on September 5.

If she wins the heat, she’ll go on to compete in the Miss England pageant.

She said: “I wanted to enter the Miss Cheshire beauty pageant since I was 16 but never felt like I was confident enough. This year I decided to just apply and if I didn’t make the finals then at least I had tried.”

“I’ve always struggled with confidence issues and anxiety and I’m trying my hardest to step out of my comfort zone to experience new things. The director of our competition wants to change the perception of beauty pageants.”

Annaliese Chloe explained how the event organisers are changing the perception of beauty pageants, with altruistic work being an important element of the contest.

She said: “It’s now not about being the prettiest girl in the room or who looks the best in a bikini. It’s about humanitarian work, helping others, being kind to the environment and raising awareness on issues in the world.”

As part of her role as a finalist, Annaliese Chloe has been raising money for One Woman at a Time, a charity that helps women suffering from forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence in Kenya, India and the UK.

The lockdown has limited some of her fundraising activities but she’s organised prize raffles, sold clothes on Depop and is climbing the height of Snowdon using the stairs in her home.

She said: “We were primarily tasked with helping the women in a village called Pokot in Kenya. There is a huge issue of FGM cutting ceremonies with the Pokot girls having the procedure done to conform to their tradition of being eligible for marriage. There are huge complications with this procedure such as severe bleeding, infertility and even death.

“We’re trying our hardest to raise as much money to help and so far we have made £11,000. This money goes towards education, empowerment and supporting the women through therapy, school, employment, emotional and financial support.

“This is a charity which is extremely close to my heart and I am trying my best to raise as much money as possible for these women. They deserve freedom and control over their bodies which is something we are attempting to fight for, for the girls who want a better start in life.”

To support Annaliese Chloe visit her fundraising page justgiving.com/fundraising/annaliese-chloe-jones