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Beauty queen: Salema Junior Radford

SALEMA Junior Radford is the current Miss Jamaica UK. But on December 17 her one-year reign will come to an end, as she will hand over her crown to another budding beauty queen.

Perhaps not what you’d expect from your usual pageant queen, the London-born beauty is also a medical student, training to be a doctor. Here, the 22-year-old tells Hazelann Williams why she swapped a stethoscope for a swimsuit.

What made you take the leap into beauty pageantry?

I started doing pageants in 2010, almost two years ago. It was something that I looked at from afar but I always thought I wasn’t very pretty. I had an afro and I didn’t think I looked very glamorous.

One day I thought I might as well give it a go and I entered into Miss Jamaica UK, though I didn’t really know what I was doing. I got there and felt so out of my depth. I was so nervous but I came in the top seven, which was good.

The experience gave me more confidence and helped me to know a bit more about the scene. So the next year, I entered again and won. And once you win stuff, you want to do more.

What has life been like since you became Miss Jamaica UK?

It’s been wonderful. I’ve had so many opportunities and met so many amazing people. I have had to take a year out from university because I auditioned for [Channel 4 reality TV show] Shipwrecked and found out at the last minute that they wanted me to go on the show.

I have never been on TV before so I’m really excited to see myself on the small screen.

What was it like taking part in Shipwrecked?

I lived on a desert island for about seven weeks; it was really strange. There were 12 of us living on an island so small you could walk from one side to another in about a minute.

With so few people living there for so long, different groups formed, there were lots of arguments, relationships and drama. But it was also fun. Now that I’ve left I miss it. But at the time I was thinking, ‘I wanna leave; these people are crazy!’

Did it really feel like you were lost on an island?

Living on the island was harder than I thought. All we had was rice, pasta, tinned tomatoes, sweet corn, lambs tongue, and corned beef; the food was really disgusting.

If you wanted a snack, you would have a coconut because they grew on the island. But no one told me coconuts made you really fat – I put on half a stone!

We had to build our own houses and sleep on the floor, and there were red ants everywhere so I was covered in bites. I’ve still got scars on my legs. It really was like being shipwrecked.

Now that you are a beauty queen and you’ve taken part in a TV show, do you still want to be a doctor?

I definitely still want to be a doctor. I went to university when I was 18, and at the rate I was going, I would have been a doctor in a year and half’s time. It kind of scared me because I’m only 22.

I feel quite young and there are a lot of other things I want to do. Having a year off is a chance to get those things out of my system. I would rather go back to medicine knowing that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything else.

The Miss Jamaica UK beauty pageant takes place at Camden Centre, Euston Road, London WC1 on December 17. For more information, visit www.missjamaicauk.com.

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