Michelle Harrison: Mrs Gibraltar, Not A Beauty Pageant, But A Forum For ‘Women with Purpose’
Michelle Harrison has worked for Sovereign in Gibraltar since 2007 and is a key member of the central administration team where her role comprises “doing a bit of everything”. Mother of Adrianna (sixteen) and five year old Sienna, Michelle recently won the Second Princess title in this summer’s Mrs Gibraltar forum. We caught up with her as she was preparing for her trip to the Bulgarian capital Sofia for the Mrs Europe event in mid October.
We started with an obvious question. In 2022, aren’t beauty pageants somewhat outdated and just a little “politically incorrect”? Michelle was delighted to put us right. First, she mentioned – quite forcefully – that the Mrs Gibraltar event is not described as a “pageant”. Rather it is a “forum” designed to raise awareness of key issues affecting women.
One of the key mottos of this year’s event is the rather lovely phrase “Women with Purpose”. Under the banner “Together We Can”, the forum affords young women the chance to showcase their talents. It focuses on those who balance careers or otherwise juggle multiple demands on their time as part of their busy lives. Far more important, Michelle says, than just having “a pretty face”.
The original Miss Gibraltar shows date back to 1959 and fifty years later, Gibraltarian Kaiane Aldorino delighted everyone at home on the Rock by winning the Miss World title. The concept of a “Mrs Gibraltar” event came from an original idea by a group of women who had been prevented from entering the traditional Miss Gibraltar contest – perhaps as a result of being married or having children.
Local firm Ideal Productions got involved and went on to produce a show for women aged 25 and over. Certainly not wanting to end up with just another beauty contest, the idea from the start was to showcase women with strong values – and a willingness to share them and help others. The show focuses on today’s women who lead busy, fulfilled lives whilst recognising that having a career or children does not define them as such.
Michelle explained the main objectives behind this year’s event. Aside from the fundraising element in aid of local charities, the fight against domestic violence is a fundamental part of this year’s initiative. Good causes supported by Mrs Gibraltar contestants include raising awareness of mental health issues, Cancer Relief Gibraltar and the Little Smiles charity. Michelle involves herself in fundraising activities most days – often during lunch breaks – and explains that although the contestants are all really busy, “it’s all for great causes and they are delighted to be able to do their bit”.
Three years ago Michelle participated in Mrs Gibraltar for this first time. This year saw her second attempt and she is delighted to have been named Second Princess. She was even happier to have won the Public Vote – itself a fundraiser as all people voting have to pay a £1 for the privilege.
As part of their preparation for the event in Sofia, Michelle and the other candidates have each produced a video introducing themselves and promoting their country. Michelle’s video has as its backdrop the magnificent Rock and City of Gibraltar and can be viewed here. The event begins on 11 October with a grand final taking place on Friday 14 October that will be live streamed across Europe, via this website and please click here to follow for updates.
And when not working, looking after the children or participating in Mrs Gibraltar, what does Michelle do to relax? She laughs as she tells us that spare time has become a very precious commodity but she enjoys gym sessions and of course she loves to travel. With that in mind she says that she can’t wait to fly to Bulgaria in October. A new country that has always fascinated her, the non-stop journey from Malaga airport will take her on an exciting journey across the whole of Europe.
Michelle is keen to acknowledge Sovereign who is sponsoring her participation in this year’s event. She says that without this invaluable help, she would not have been able to undertake the journey. She is particularly delighted that all four local Sovereign companies are coming together meaning she leaves for Bulgaria with the whole team in Gibraltar cheering her on. She wishes to thank Sovereign Trust, Sovereign Wealth Sovereign Pension Services and Sovereign Insurance Services for their generous support and encouragement.
We wish Michelle bon voyage and of course good luck at Mrs Europe where she’ll be representing herself, Sovereign and Gibraltar. Even if she doesn’t win Michelle Harrison remains our Princess and we wish her well as she fulfils her pledge to continue working for local causes dear to her heart.