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Janice Sampere is crowned Miss Gibraltar 2021

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

Janice Sampere became Miss Gibraltar 2021 on Tuesday evening at a small event in City Hall during which Miss Gibraltar 2019, Celine Bolaños, placed the sparkling crown on her head, marking the start of her new role.

The unusual crowning in the Mayor’s Parlour was due to Covid-19, which scuttled plans for the Miss Gibraltar pageant in both 2020 and 2021.

Miss Sampere was the first princess of Miss Gibraltar 2019 and will now represent the Rock in Puerto Rico in Miss World later this year.

Speaking for the first time as Miss Gibraltar, a confident Miss Sampere took to the lectern and remarked how that moment was the start of a very exciting journey for her.

“I am still overwhelmed with emotions but the remaining feelings of excitement and gratitude are the most prominent,” she said, reflecting on the moment she was told she would be crowned Miss Gibraltar 2021.

She called it a great honour to be appointed and to serve as an ambassador for Gibraltar.

“Especially after these tough couple of years we have endured due to Covid-19,” she said.

“For me it goes beyond the beauty and popularity status. It is about combining all these aspects and applying the philosophy of beauty with a purpose. Therefore, I will do my utmost to help serve our country and our community in every way possible.”

She thanked the Government and Gibraltar Cultural Services for giving her the opportunity to take on the role. She also thanked family, friends, her partner and many others who have helped her achieve her goal and for their ongoing support.

Earlier during the event and before handing over the crown, Miss Bolaños had reflected on her own experience and alerted the incoming Miss Gibraltar as to just how much the role will change her life.

“I entered Miss Gibraltar with the expectation that it would aid me in the goals that I had at the time and that it would be a stepping-stone in my future of what back then was my chosen career,” she said.

“I could never have anticipated that it would turn my life upside down and put me on the path I am on now.”

“If it wasn’t for my experience as Miss Gibraltar, I would not have self-reflected and I would not have started on my journey to become a barrister.”

She described how, despite her time as Miss Gibraltar being disrupted by the pandemic, she had been given ample opportunities to see at first hand the work different charities and organisations are carrying out.

But what most stuck with her was the day trip to Cheshire Homes in Tangier where she spent time with the residents.

“It was the most humbling and heart-warming experience and these individuals taught me that true happiness comes from within and those who you surround yourself with and not material things,” she said.

Addressing the often-asked question of whether Miss Gibraltar is relevant today, she replied in the affirmative.

“But perhaps not for the most obvious of reasons,” she said.

“The title changes you as a person, it teaches you self-discipline, it can act as a stepping-stone in aiding a future career. It can also help you discover who you are and what you want out of life.”

Finishing her closing speech as the reigning Miss Gibraltar, she thanked a variety of people, her family and partner, former Miss Gibraltar Jessica Baldachino and Shyanne Azopardi and others who helped her in choreographing dances or with her make up.

Next to speak during the ceremony was the Mayor Christian Santos, who has produced and hosted a number of Miss Gibraltar pageants through the years.

“Pageants can be a controversial subject with many people against the concept of these, branding them cattle markets, and others celebrating them for giving women the chance to express themselves how they choose” he said.

He noted that over the years it was less about the physical appearance of the participants and more about how they reflect the women of today’s society.

“I feel that women can choose to represent themselves however they see fit and represent those around them without adhering to any stereotypes,” he said.

The Mayor spoke about how the Miss Gibraltar pageant is an integral part of the community and had given many Gibraltarians the chance to work towards a goal and to achieve aims and objectives they may have set for themselves.

Addressing the incoming Miss Gibraltar, he said: “Take the experience and live it to the fullest.”

“You will live memorable moments which will mark the rest of your life. You will grow with every new experience and you will look back at your time as Miss Gibraltar as a highlight.”

As he spoke those words Miss Sampere listened attentively and with emotion, knowing the adventure awaiting her will be life-changing.

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