A Zumba teacher and mother-of-two from Southwick has reached the finals of the Miss Great Britain pageant for the second year running.
Lucie Richardson will take part in the competition in Leicester tomorrow (Friday, September 15), where she will represent Portsmouth.
The 27-year-old said she entered the competition last year, in which she competed as Miss Brighton, in order to escape her comfort zone.
Looking back at that first attempt, she said: “It changed a lot for me and opened up a lot of doors.”
This year, she said she had become truly settled into the idea of being Miss Great Britain and was ‘a lot more relaxed’ about it all.
She said: “I learnt that with the Miss Great Britain pageant, it’s all about your inner beauty and individuality.”
Lucie, who has spent years battling with her mental health, hopes to use her platform to encourage others to seek help. She said the most fulfilling part of the pageant had been sharing her story.
Lucie, who is mother to three-year-old Charlie and four-year-old Will, said: “My biggest fear was my mental health problems having an impact on my kids as they grow up.
“I’ve tried to get out into the community and urge people to talk about their problems.
“With mental health there is still such a stigma and you can feel like you should be embarrassed about your problems.
“You feel like you are fighting it alone, and that should never be the case.
“It is okay to open up to others around you. This is a serious issue and should be treated as such.”
The Zumba teacher, who holds classes in Brighton, Saltdean and Worthing, said there was ‘so much’ she wanted to do if she won the title of Miss Great Britain.
She said: “I’m passionate about building confidence in girls and women, as well as men, so I want to hold a lot of Zumba workshops to help build people’s confidence up.”
Lucie has also become involved with different charities as well as the Royal Navy and would hope to continue this work.
As for her chances of winning, she said: “I am just going to be myself, give it a go and see where we end up.
“All of the girls at the competition are such great people, so we are all really friendly with one another. It is a fun experience.”