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Rebekah Watkins – From hard hat & hi-vis, to gracing the catwalk, my story is quite the unexpected one

By 22nd April 2024 No Comments

Who am I and what do I do?
My name is Rebekah, and I’m a young Christian lady on a mission to inspire the next generation to be an indomitable force for good. By day I am an Archaeologist & Historic Building Conservationist, by evening a Youth Worker/Minister, and now by night a Miss England 2024 Finalist. I am founder of Dream Heritage CIC, a not for profit organisation which is all about rebuilding and transforming both heritage & communities, and I’ve dedicated my life to this transformative mission. I stay and work in some of the most deprived areas of the UK, encouraging, empowering and equipping communities to dream. I challenge them to see what the ruins are in their communities, things like poor mental health, social isolation, nothing for young people to do etc. Then I challenge them to see what are the physical ruins in their communities, things like falling down castles, empty shops, dilapidated green spaces, unloved heritage etc. Finally, I challenge them to see how their physical ruins can be transformed into places that rebuild the ruins in their community; put simply we rebuild, restore and transform unloved heritage, places and spaces into community assets, by, with and for the community. Through my work in Dream, I inspire communities to BE THE CHANGE, educating them in heritage skills, DIY, gardening, and traditional crafts so that they are the ambassadors of local positive change, and have the skills & sense of ownership and pride to look after these important local places for the benefit of their community for many generations to come! From highly specialised conservation work to community heritage projects, from castles & churches to high streets and parks, from stained glass window repairs to setting up litter-picking groups, the work I lead through Dream is TRANSFORMATIVE, EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES, EDUCATING & UP-SKILLING INDIVIDUALS, RESTORING CONFIDENCE & CIVIC PRIDE, REBUILDING COMMUNITY SPIRIT, SAVING OUR NATION’S HISTORIC & NATURAL ENVIRONMENT, AND PASSING ON IMPORTANT ENDANGERED HERITAGE SKILLS & CRAFTS.

Besides the heritage work, we now lead Dream Youth which dreams better futures for our young people, by giving them access to youth clubs, support, trips, and experiences they otherwise wouldn’t have had. At our clubs we see REAL TRANSFORMATION, as young people realise their potential, value & purpose. Many of the young people we meet have faced an incredible number of challenges, including abuse, poverty and hunger, so our youth clubs become a lifeline to them and a helping hand, to lift them out of what is often a cycle of poverty. From our life lessons, discussions, and cooking sessions, the young people grow in maturity and confidence. Through Dream’s ‘Time Out To Dream’ initiative which I lead, we are also empowering & equipping the next generation of dreamers & believers, supporting them to realise their God-given potential! Young people, as well as many other men & women out there, struggle with body image, a lack of self worth, self esteem issues and are unsure about their futures. With today’s culture increasingly more pressurised and fast-paced, and success measured by how many social media followers & disposable income you have, it is easy to see how mental health problems and suicide rates have escalated.

Rebekah competing in the Miss England semi final

With undertaking frontline youth work, I am seeing young people’s lives and futures robbed by anxiety and depression, and this is something I have been extremely passionate about changing. Throughout the Miss England challenge I have championed three things that I believe if the next generation (if not everybody) believed, would enable them to be an indomitable force for good, living a life free from all mental health problems and self-made barriers. These three things I have now shared, spoken and preached about at various churches, community spaces, halls, and schools across the country, and they are:
 That we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)
 That we have a purpose, hope and a future (Jeremiah 29)
 That we are deeply loved by a God who will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13/John 3:16) Honestly, if the next generation could believe they were wonderfully made, had a purpose & a future, and were loved, it would be TRANSFORMATIONAL to not just their lives, but to the communities they are part of. The next generation if they believed these three things would be LIMITLESS, they would be an INDOMITABLE FORCE FOR GOOD!

So why did I enter Miss England???
My Miss England journey has never been about me. I applied because I felt prompted by God to. I never believed I would get anywhere in the competition, because I was not some aspiring ‘beach babe’, but was actually somebody motivated by my faith, to step out of my comfort zone and compete in the competition, in a hope to inspire young men and women to be an INDOMITABLE FORCE FOR GOOD. Throughout the competition, I have not wanted to just model clothes, but to model a good lifestyle, careers for women, and a life centred on the love of Jesus, love for nature, love for each other, and love for ourselves! I am enthused to encourage the next generation to reach their potential; to be known for their kindness; their courage; their advocacy for the environment; their careers; and their love!

Where next?
My Miss England Journey so far has been like nothing I could have ever imagined! It has opened doors where previously doors were closed, enabling me to share my faith; trailblaze women at work and women making a positive difference; champion heritage and environmental advocacy; and to inspire the next generation to reach their God-given potential & be an INDOMITABLE FORCE FOR GOOD! I intend to continue speaking and sharing about my faith, my story, and my work across the UK and abroad, inspiring others to
BE THE CHANGE they wish to see! I am also creating a Heritage Skills, Traditional Crafts & Youth Worker Training Centre in the Yorkshire Dales, to meet the need for skilled craftspeople & youth workers, as well as to create vocational pathways and careers for
those who may be less academically strong but have so much potential vocationally!

Rebekah will be competing in the next Miss England national final taking place at the Grand Station Wolverhampton  on the 16th & 17th May 2024 sponsored by Watermans Hair.

Rebekah promoting the Miss England Headline sponsors Watermans Hair

For tickets to support Rebekah at the event visit the Grand Station Website to find out more