Meet the Sheffield graduate who looks great while protecting turtles
‘I just do my thing’
Amber Gamble graduated with the same amount of debt as everyone else and landed a job in PR.
But the former Miss South Yorkshire and Miss England competitor, from Denham in Buckinghamshire, juggled her final exams with competing in beauty pageants.
She won Miss Scuba UK, and then placed third in the Miss Scuba International competition on a small idyllic island of Mabul in Borneo. Amber was also crowned Miss Photogenic, taking home a total prize fund of $3,000 (£1,986).
The 23-year-old, who graduated in June, said: “I would never prioritise it and there is not enough money going down a pageant route rather than a modelling route. If I really wanted to I could try but it would be a completely different career.
“Pageants and modelling are very different. You have to pay a lot with pageants. If you don’t get sponsorship you have to source your own dresses etc. You’re raising money and prepping for interviews all the time.
“I do it more for the experience and the travelling than anything else.”
The organisers of Miss Scuba, which raises awareness for marine conservation, invited Amber to compete after her success at Miss South Yorkshire.
The former fashion editor for The Tab Sheffield said: “After I won Miss Buckinghamshire, my first pageant, I went for Miss England.
“The Miss South Yorkshire organisers then introduced me to the Miss Scuba Organisation who asked me if I would like to take part in the final, which would be taking place in Egypt in May 2014.”
The competition of 14 girls taught them about coral protection, dwindling turtle populations and other marine life issues. Set on Nabul, an island owned by Robert Lo, founder of Miss Scuba, the beauty contestants shot photos and cleaned up beaches before taking part in several photoshoots.
It was won overall by Miss USA who is now travelling the world. “She was in Berlin this week for a conference.”
All was not plain sailing for Amber though. She said: “Originally I was going to do Irish dancing but hurt my foot a week before. I had to recite an Irish poem called ‘A Prayer for my Daughter’ which was a bit odd.
“Miss Thailand was great. She did a mix of contemporary dance with Asian fusion to I Will Survive by Diana Ross. She started off in Thai style then whipped off all her clothes and started going crazy – it was great.”
“You meet so many great girls from other cultures. Everyone gets on and you learn so much. We had one accident and it was completely my fault.
“I felt awful. Miss China had come the wrong way in practice so I showed her the other way back. She was wearing the highest heels. But there was a lot of wires backstage and she tripped. Her heel broke and her foot swelled up but somehow she was still able to compete.
“I felt terrible.”
While Amber, a Journalism and Hispanic Studies graduate, has the full support of her boyfriend and family, she admits there is some jealousy and a lack of understanding from others.
She said: “A lot of the stigma behind what I do is to do with feminism. A lot of the time people don’t understand why we flaunt ourselves on stage.
“There’s more than that involved – you’re on stage for 10 minutes but the preparation is two weeks at the least.
“People rarely fully understand why you’re doing it and it is such a confidence builder. I had to speak to 600 people at Miss Scuba about the cultural issues surrounding the slaughter of dolphins and whales.
“It was a daunting task and I’m not going to get to do that in any other thing in my life at the moment.
“The stigma doesn’t bother me because I do it to have fun and enjoy myself. I just do my thing.”