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Beauty with a Purpose

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Aneta Kreglicka - Miss World 1989


Ever since I started Miss World, I have always seen that it had a certain charitable element but it was not until Julia and I were married that she told me about the Variety Club of Great Britain, an organisation mainly of business men, mostly in show business. Julia had been helping this organisation in a small way and had discovered that because most of those businessmen ran large companies and donated all their services free, the administration costs for just head office staff and items of that sort, were only 7%, so that out of every £100 raised £93 went to the children. This was the British arm of Variety Clubs International, arguable the greatest children’s charity in the world. I say “greatest”, not because of its size, but because, like the parable of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes, it can, with its contacts and its attraction, make money go further than any other organisation I have known. They have secured the co-operation of hospitals and medical teams worldwide, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom and by the medical teams and the USA hospitals, donating services free, they have secured $50,000 heart operations for children for only $5000, a tenth of the cost, hence my reference to five loaves.

Having got me into Variety, Julia herself started to talk to our Franchise Holders worldwide. She wanted the world’s children to be helped, not just British children, and so she coined the phrase “Beauty with a Purpose”. We did not wish to administer this ourselves, we just wanted to help, so within a short space of time, we stared working with Variety Clubs International on a world basis.

I was rewarded for my efforts by being appointed President of the organisation in 1977, but the real work was being done by Julia, out in the field, where she was encouraging all franchise Holders and Directors to raise money to help their own children. Women were not allowed to become members of Variety Clubs International, it was an all male domain, but Julia was regarded by the board as their unofficial Ambassador, as she brought overseas cases of children requiring help from all parts of the world. Variety would then step in and provide what was necessary to make their lives that much easier. Then, five years ago, the organisation became open to both sexes and Variety’s first election was of three women who were invited to become Ambassadors to join the board and Julia was one of those three.

By now, her work was becoming even more widespread and perhaps her greatest hour was shortly after the earthquake in El Salvador when, quite fearlessly, she got together a group of 14 former Miss Worlds, current entrants into Miss World and, with each paying their own fare, she took them to El Salvador where they did a fashion show which raised the “end money” to build a temporary children’s hospital. In the meantime, she was asking Variety to provider her with thousands of dollars worth of medicines badly needed in this particular area and shortly afterwards, she was back again with Miss World presenting the much needed drugs on behalf of Variety International.

This is only one of the many examples of the tremendous work that Julia has done on behalf of deprived and handicapped children worldwide and it is fitting that I should write this article this years because, in May 1989, at the Variety International Convention held in Australia, she was invited to be the first woman to be elected a Vice President to serve the Board of Variety, which had previously been a completely all-male Board.

I feel sure that all those Pageant Directors who have met Julia on various occasions will be as thrilled as I was at this great honour that has been bestowed upon her.




By Julia Morley

In this, the fortieth year of Miss World, it is perhaps appropriate that we recall briefly some of the highlights of the charitable work of those involved in the pageant and its contribution to the deprived and handicapped.

During the first decade of Miss World it was simply what the name implied, a beauty pageant, and most of the contestant entered to promote modelling or film careers. As the pageant grew, it formed a meeting forum between nations and as stories were exchanged, more and more became known about the enormous amount of help many nations in the world required for deprived children.

Since its inception, Miss World had made a limited number of contributions to charitable causes but it was not until 1961 that a real effort was made to use the title and the contest to raise charitable funds without destroying its commercial requirements to pay for itself.

At the time, I was a young mother raising a family. Prior to marrying Eric, as a teenager, I had assisted the Variety Club of Great Britain with its fundraising and had been greatly impressed with its dedication in helping children and in particular they very low overheads of 7% which meant that of every £100 raised, £93 was actually spent on the children. I suggested to Eric that he should join and channel all the Miss World efforts through the Variety Club and let their experts investigate each request for help, and that is what he did.

In 1969 with my family growing up and attending school, I joined the Miss World Organisation and with the knowledge I had acquired over the previous ten years, I was subsequently to become its Managing Director.

Apart from Planning the Contest and looking after Miss World’s activities throughout the year, I now felt it time to try to get as many of the nations as possible to join in the fundraising through Variety Clubs International and other charities in their own countries.

At the same time, wherever Miss World had a booking in whatever country, we suggested that the time should always be set aside to turn her visit into a fundraiser or a visit to cheer up the sick. It is amazing how young people in a hospital bed or a home for handicapped or deprived children, get so much pleasure over seeing Miss World with her crown and sash. It is, to them, like meeting a fairy princess.

Over the years, we have visited hundreds of such places in many, many countries. From helping to rebuild a children’s hospital in El Salvador after the earthquake, to arranging major heart surgery for children in many parts of the world, Miss World has played its
part. In this country, it sponsored the Mountbatten Ward in the Variety Club Children ’s Hospital at King’s College Hospital, London, funded the first computerised bone marrow bank at Westminster Hospital, purchased kidney machines for Guy’s hospital, and put on the road over 50 Variety Club Sunshine Coaches to mention only a few of the projects. Over the years the funds have exceeded the staggering total of £50m.

In 1980 we bought the Contest from Mecca who owned it, as Eric, its originator, resigned as its Chairman. Since then have had to adopt a more commercial attitude to pay our way.

However, we still maintain our charitable outlook. For example, last Friday November 2nd, all the contestants attended a lunch staged by the Variety Club, which will have raised over £100,000, half devoted to British children and half to children in other parts of the world. Chief fundraiser of the lunch is the auctioning and raffling of gifts brought over by the contestants.

Last year we staged the pageant in Hong Kong, the first time outside London, and we thought we would lose our charity lunch and our children’s party, which we always give every year. A few words with the Rotary Club of Hong Kong and the Army and Police Force of the colony and Hong Kong showed that what can be done in England can certainly be done in Hong Kong. In eight days, the Rotary Club organised a sell out dinner where the proceeds were shared between a local charity and Variety Clubs International.

Our children’s Party will always be a wonderful memory. We had heard so much about the Boat Children. Whatever the politics of adults, here were children who had known no life except inside a “prison” camp. Getting them released for one afternoon to attend a party jointly staged by the Rotary Club and ourselves was no easy task but in the end I managed to persuade both the Army and the Chief of Police to allow 500 to attend. It was the largest party we had ever given. The contestants were wonderful, many stayed up all the previous night making decorations applicable to their own countries, so we had a really international atmosphere.

At first, the children were bewildered, not a smile, not a response, but after a while it got to them, the ice cream, the cakes, the sandwiches and the laughter. It was sad to see them leave and even sadder to see them taking any souvenir they could lay their hands on, which British children would leave behind as rubbish. Yes, it was sad but it also left us with a happy thought that we really were living up to our slogan of Beauty with a Purpose.

Special Features

Each week, BWP will present a new in-depth report on one of the many charity projects worldwide that has benefitted from the work of Julia Morley and the support of Beauty with a Purpose. Keep watching this space for more details on these special features.



Julia Morley



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