Karen Cornish wins the Miss ITV competition

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In 1964 Jersey girl Karen Cornish was happy to be runner-up to Rosemary Amy in the Miss Jersey Battle of Flowers beauty competition.

But the following year, at the age of 17, she was eager to go one step better, and entered and won the Miss Channel Television competition. This was to become a stepping stone to national success in the Miss ITV competition, as she explained in this interview published that year in Jersey Topic magazine.

Satisfaction

”More than anything the title Miss ITV is very satisfying. After all, I come from an island of 63,000 people and I was matched against girls who had been chosen from millions. I was very conscious of this throughout the competition. I wondered before I left for Scotland if, really, I was going to end up making a fool of myself. I kept thinking that the girls from the other much larger areas would make me look so bad that I would let the Channel Islands down.
”Many of the girls in Scotland were models. Others followed beauty competitions up and down the country. And there in the middle of all this was little me, in only my third beauty competition.
”It all started last year, really, when I became Miss BOBA. I didn't mean to enter but everyone at our table, especially my younger sister Madeleine, pushed me forward and I plucked up enough courage to keep my head up and smile. I won it, and then entered for the Miss Battle of Flowers competition.
”I was a runner-up in that. I wasn't hurt by the judges' decision but it made me very determined to go in for and win the Miss Channel contest. This was, I suppose, a sort of defiant gesture. Had I won the Miss Battle of Flowers competition I doubt if I would have entered the television one.
Karen and actor Sean Connery (centre) at a Lions Club function after she won the title
Karen and Sean Connery dancing at the Lions Club function

'A little bit frightened'

”It was only when I had become Miss Channel Television that I started worrying. Suddenly I realised that the whole thing had gone much further than I ever dreamed possible and I was a little bit frightened at the prospect of going up to Scotland to line up against all of those girls.
”When I arrived in Scotland the day before the competition I was very nervous. I went to my first real theatre that evening and the next morning we began rehearsing. Seeing all of the other girls made me feel so much better because I felt that I was about on the same beauty length as they were and I no longer felt that I would let down the people at home.
”After all-day rehearsals all traces of nerves had gone and I was happy that I would put up a good show. A lot of people have asked me how I felt as I stood there and heard the judges' decision. Well, when I heard who was placed third, my heart sank a little because I felt that I could just make this. Then I heard the name of the second girl and I just felt sad inside.

Wonderful feeling

”And suddenly they were announcing my name — what a joyous, incredible, wonderful feeling ran through me. I thought of everyone at home and felt that I had won for them. I thought too of the Battle of Flowers competition and I smiled a little — in a way it was something of an I-told-you-so smile, but in a happy sort of way, not in any way bitter.


”I have given no real thought to my future or what I will do. I don't think I intend to make a career out of beauty competitions, because I don't really think that I'm the type. Neither do I think that I'm the modelling type, although I think I could do television modelling, and this has been suggested. All this means moving over to London and into the tough world of professional models, and I'm not sure that this is what I want yet.
”I am very conscious of the fact that I am only seventeen and there is plenty of time for me to think. I will be guided, as I always have been, by my parents.
”The money I won is in the bank and, after I have had a little shopping spree, the rest will stay there until I have more definite ideas of what I want to do.
”Does the title frighten me at all? Not really. It has taken a little time to get used to people nudging each other and pointing me out but I don't feel that I have to always be a beauty girl. I dress casually and will keep on doing this. I don't think that my life will change very much at all. After all, I am just a normal, healthy 17-year-old girl.
”I was asked by an interviewer in Scotland if my boyfriend minded me entering beauty competitions. I replied that I didn't have a regular boyfriend. He looked very put out and puzzled by this reply. 'I go out with boys', I said, 'but I don't have a regular boy friend'. Nothing could be more normal than that!
”What are my likes and dislikes? I like pop music, though I can't abide some of the by-products of pop music. Scruffiness for instance. I think it is a pity that so many of our idols dress so badly. I would never go out with a young man who had hair growing over his collar.
”What do I think of myself? Well, if I'm analytical about it, I have to admit to myself that I am by no means a perfect looking girl. I'm not that pleased about my figure and I'm not quite tall enough to be really attractive. Mind you, I'm glad the beauty judges didn't think so.”
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