Beauty with purpose
- Credit: Archant
Not just a pretty face, Miss Kent contestant Karen Sandland is also a teaching assistant, Army Cadet Force volunteer and an ace fundraiser.
Tell us a bit about you
My name is Karen Sandland, I’m 23 and from Maidstone. I went to Valley Park Community School where I was deputy head girl in sixth form.
I still live with my parents while I save up to buy a house with my partner, an Army Reservist who is not long got back from Afghanistan. I have two older brothers and a nephew.
Tell us about Miss England
My friends entered me into the Miss England competition, I think as a bit of a joke, back in October 2014. The organisers of of Miss Sussex 2015 then contacted me to ask if I would like to take part as a practice run for Miss Kent 2015.
This meant attending the pageant evenings, which involved three rounds: Little Black Dress, eco wear (an outfit we made ourselves out of recycled material or from a charity shop) and the evening gown round. In the run up we had the option to raise money for the Miss World charity Beauty With a Purpose, which I did, and I also chose to raise money for Help for Heroes.
- 1 10 excellent fish and chip shops in Kent
- 2 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 3 Win the full range of Bashall Spirits Gins
- 4 16 beautiful beaches in Devon you have to visit
- 5 11 of the most Instagrammble locations in Hampshire
- 6 20 of the best restaurants in Hertfordshire
- 7 9 places to eat out in Chester this summer
- 8 17 of the best things to do in Essex for free
- 9 6 of the best August walks in Cheshire
- 10 Win a three nights stay at Nydsley Hall in Pateley Bridge
I placed 11th in Miss Sussex so didn’t quite make the top 10 that time but I did make the top five in Miss Kent the following month.
This year I was contacted by the Miss England organisers to find out if I wanted to take part in Miss Kent again, but it was a little different as there wouldn’t be a pageant this time, just a public text vote to choose the winner and a few others who would go through to the Miss England Semi Finals. I came second out of the 20-plus finalists in the text vote and that put me through. This year for fundraising I chose to also help the Royal British Legion as well as BWAP.
Some of the things I have done for fundraising across the two years have included boot fairs, charity stalls, sponsor me/hire me days, cake sales on The Kentish Lady on the Medway in Maidstone and numerous pub quizzes and raffles.
What is your day job?
I work at Linton Park Focus School in Maidstone, with Year 3 to Year 6 pupils. It is my job to make sure all the children, of all abilities, understand the work that is set and get the extra help if needed. I also take out the higher-achieving students for interventions to make sure they a being worked to their full potential.
I enjoy it because the school is so incredibly supportive to both the staff and students. This allows me to do my job and it’s wonderful to watch children who want to learn, and in turn, see them grow and I get to help shape their future.
your spare time activities?
I’m an adult volunteer in the Army Cadet Force and on two evenings a week, the occasional weekend plus two weeks in the summer holidays, I teach 12 to 18-year-olds about military and life-based skills. They learn to map read while out on the ground, how to use a rifle and to shoot on the ranges, we teach them first aid, drill, maintenance and care of their uniform and they get to interact with other like-minded teens. It’s so fulfilling meeting a shy 12 year old and then seeing a strong, confident 18 year old walk out of the door; some stay on to become instructors, as I did. I’m learning British Sign Language, and I’ve begun volunteering for the Royal British Legion.
Your ambitions for the future?
To make a difference, even if it’s only to one child or young person’s life. That’s why I went back to the cadet force as an adult volunteer and why I became a teaching assistant; there are many people my age, myself included, who could do so much more with their life, so if I can help one child from not being that type of adult then I have done something right. w