First Miss Great Britain Hijabi Finalist Raises Money for Alex’s Wish

First Miss Great Britain Hijabi Finalist Raises Money for Alex’s Wish
First Miss Great Britain Hijabi Finalist Raises Money for Alex’s Wish

The support shown for Alex’s Wish by the Miss Great Britain finalists clearly shows that their beauty extends far beyond good looks.

In the last three and a half years that the GB women have been involved with Alex’s Wish, they have raised more than £79,100 – and helped spread the word about Duchenne and their goals across the UK.

We talk to some of the amazing, beautiful, talented and inspirational women who are giving up their time – and taking on new challenges – to learn more about Duchenne and raise vital funds to find treatments and ultimately a cure.

Miss Great Britain finalist Taslimah Rassool, a London-based actor and former news anchor for Kuwait TV, is making history.

Taslimah is the first finalist in the beauty pageant to wear the hijab and is proud to be able to use her profile in the national competition to raise funds for worthy causes. She and all the Miss Great Britain finalists are eagerly awaiting the National Final, which will take place Friday 20 October in Leicester. 

And, in the case of Alex’s Wish, Taslimah is drawing on her own personal experience. Although now fully recovered, she suffered temporary paralysis and severe arthritis from the side effects of a rare blood disorder.

She said: “I was unable to move my legs and spent two weeks in hospital. I was so weak I couldn’t even carry one bag of shopping and needed a lot of physio. Because of my experience, I can relate to what it’s like when muscles deteriorate, and your body won’t do what you want it to do.”

Keen to promote the work of Alex’s Wish – and Cancer Research, the other charity chosen by the GB ladies – Taslimah has brought her own individual style and panache to fundraising.

She said: “I wanted to reach one million people but because of the cost-of-living crisis, I suggested each person just gave £1. Even that was a struggle for some, though. It then occurred to me that, as the first GB woman in a hijab, why not create my own line of hijabs and split the proceeds between the two charities? I showed a range of diamond-encrusted and plain hijabs, which generated a lot of TV and press attention, especially in Pakistani, Somali, Indian and Bangladeshi communities.”

With the help of family members, who all put on Alex’s Wish T-shirts, Taslimah has also collected donations at events, including at a big festival in London to celebrate Eid.

She added: “Charity is one of the five pillars of Islam and I want people to see that this is one of the main reasons I entered the competition. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to be a Miss GB finalist. It’s not about uploading your photo to a website then parading about.”

Ms GB Classic finalist Angela Taylor, a 48-year-old mum of three and ENT nurse in Norwich, is also pleased to have the opportunity to support Alex’s Wish.

She said: “It’s been a real eye-opener. I knew about muscular dystrophy before but not a lot about Duchenne. As a GB finalist, I’ve learned so much, and it’s knowledge I can pass on in my work as a nurse. I’m a mum to a 17-year-old and I can relate to why Alex’s parents set up the charity and want to do all they can to find a cure for Duchenne.”

Angela is also pleased that there’s a category for contestants aged over 45, although she admits to not being as intrepid as other competitors, some of whom have abseiled down tall buildings to raise money.

She added: “I’m now in training for the inflatable assault course in September! It’s great that the competition is open to my age group and that these days it’s about empowering and supporting each other not just how you look.”

For Berkshire-based Ms GB finalist Ella Stiles, it was actually Alex’s Wish that first inspired her to enter the pageant. Ella cares for a 26-year-old with Duchenne, and through this personal connection she last year raised £13,000 for a young boy with DMD in her local community.

She said: “When I heard that Ms Great Britain and pageants are less to do with bikini beauty contests and a lot to do with fundraising for worthy causes, I started to think about entering. Then, when I saw that the affiliated charity was Alex’s Wish I just knew I had to enter.

“I know that one day we WILL find a cure, and I want to be part of finding that cure. As a nurse, I do my bit by making someone with Duchenne’s life easier. We also need to raise money for new treatments and equipment like the SMART Suit, which will help people live more comfortably. In June, I raised £7,000 with a rugby-themed gala evening where the guest speaker was legendary referee Nigel Owens. I have a little way to go yet but £10,000 is my goal!”

Emma Hallam, Alex’s mum and CEO of Alex’s Wish, said she was immensely grateful to all the GB ladies for their help and support.

She said: “They are truly beautiful people, inside and out. Thanks to their tremendous efforts – and the great publicity they generate – we’ve been able to get the message about Duchenne and what Alex’s Wish hopes to achieve, to a much wider audience.”

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