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Miss SA alumni share a few of their most memorable moments

2018-05-23 16:28
PHOTO: Getty Images

Cape Town - With the annual Miss SA pageant just days away on 27 May, this year marks a particularly special one as the pageant celebrates 60 years!

Watch the Miss South Africa pageant at 17:00 on M-Net (DStv 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) on Sunday.

A few Miss SA alumni filled us in on their most memorable moments as well as who their favourite Miss SA darling is:

Claudia Henkel – Miss SA 2004

My best Miss SA memory is . . .

My best memory as Miss SA is difficult to pinpoint as I had so many wonderful experiences, such as meeting Nelson Mandela and going to Miss Universe in Thailand. One that made me very emotional and perhaps that’s why I remember it so vividly was my 22nd birthday while I was Miss SA and I’d been travelling extensively. I hadn’t seen my family in several weeks and I was to celebrate my birthday in North West. I arrived at Sun City and Sun International had organised for my entire family to surprise me there. Walking over the bridge at the Cascades hotel, they were all standing there. It was just incredible. 

Fave Miss SA?

Now that’s a hard one because I work on Miss South Africa as the head of PR. I work with all the former winners frequently so all of them have their own unique characteristics that I admire 

Margaret Gardiner – Miss SA and Miss Universe 1978

My best Miss SA memory is . . .

I didn’t expect to win. The contestants were made up of the biggest names of that time. When I was called out my family was sitting in the audience. That meant everything. The first and second runner-up were both friends. We’d modelled together and travelled South Africa together doing fashion shows. This idea that beauty contestants are mean is nonsense. There was such a feeling of happiness and the awesome discovery that three friends from the same modelling agency had placed in the top three was so joyful. I was surrounded by friends and family. The people who’d given me breaks, like Bernard Jordaan, were there too. The feeling was overwhelming and I cried from complete delight.    

Fave Miss SA?

I was too young to remember Penny Coelen. But once I won I got to meet her and she still embodies the gentle beauty, intelligence and grace that the winners share. I have to make a note about Vera Johns. I met her when I was 17. I’d been flown in to do a fashion show and she was the drawcard. We shared a car from the airport to the location.

It was a long drive. Her personality, her warmth, humour and self-deprecation were an inspiration. I model myself on no one, but she impacted and inspired me to know that I could be myself.

Whenever you see me floating around a room it’s something I’m willing myself to do because I was that shy girl watching someone else and that person, Vera, was kind enough to reach out to me.

Jo-Ann Strauss – Miss SA 2000

My best Miss SA memory is . . .

Too many to mention, but I can remember after just having been crowned I was so exhausted I fell asleep with my crown on my head as it was just too much work to undo all the hair grips holding it on my head. Talk about sleeping like a princess. Not my best memory necessarily, but certainly memorable.

Fave Miss SA?

Rolene Strauss as I met her when she was a little girl when I was still Miss SA and she credits me with inspiring her, though in fact I’m now inspired by her tenacity and grace. 

Liesl Laurie – Miss SA 2015

My best Miss SA memory is . . .

It would definitely have to be my homecoming in Eldorado Park. One of the best memories of my entire life.  

Fave Miss SA?

Can I say all of them? It would have to be Bernelee Daniell and Lorna Potgieter – they’ve always been the best mentors and the best big sisters anyone could ask for. I really hope they know that I've adopted them as family.