Miss Preston meets her perfect match in Mr World
Every girl wants to find her Mr Right . . . but Niamh Taylor went one better and found Mr World.
The current Miss Preston has been dating the reigning Mr World, Jack Heslewood, since they met as contestants at a beauty pageant.
The couple came face to face when they were challenging for the Miss and Mr England titles in Nottinghamshire in 2017 and the attraction was instant.
Now the pair are inseparable, despite living 200 miles apart.
“When people hear who he is they say: ‘Wow.’ But to me he’s just Jack,” said 22-year-old Niamh, from Chorley
“My friends think it’s cool that my boyfriend is Mr World - although they keep joking that I’ve set the standard a bit high for them now.”
Jack, 28, won the global title at the end of August when, as Mr England, he took on 71 other hopefuls in the Phillipines.
To Niamh he was already the real deal. But the judges, including three Miss Worlds, picked him out as the first-ever English winner after three days of competition.
“I just knew he could do it,” she said. “I knew he had everything. I suppose I’m a bit biased, but I really thought he had a great chance of winning.”
And what a catch he is . . . even without the Mr World sash round his neck.
It wasn’t just his good looks which grabbed the attention of the judges in Manilla.
The part-time model has got brains too - Jack is a rocket scientist and has just launched his own “augmented reality” company.
Add to that he is an all-round sportsman and a musician - he is a skilled drummer - and you get some idea about how his CV stood out from the pack.
But to Niamh he is your everyday boy next door, completely unaffected by the instant stardom which has come his way as Mr World.
“To be honest we are very similar, almost the same person,” she said. “We have exactly the same sense of humour, he’s kind and he’s funny.
“But he’s also very intelligent. He’s worked as a rocket scientist and he is really passionate about science. He was also very supportive when I was doing my teaching degree.”
Jack was just plain old Mr Hetfordshire when Niamh first clapped eyes on him.
She was at Kelham Hall in Newark, Nottinghamshire in June 2017 competing in the semi-finals of the Miss England contest. He was there as a contestant in the parallel Mr England event.
“People always want to know how we met and it’s a nice story,” confessed Naimh. “I won the Miss Preston title in 2017 and I went down to Kelham Hall for the semi-finals.
“The Mr England competition was also going on at the same time and all the male contestants had to pick a girl to have a photoshoot with. Jack picked me and I remember being all shy and giggly. But privately I was thinking ‘he’ll do.’
“We had the photographs taken and we both looked a bit awkward. Then, after the contest, we kept in touch and he invited me down to London for the day.
“We just hit it off in a big way. He knew who I was because he had been in pageants and had seen me on social media. But I hadn’t a clue who he was.
“I think he picked me because I was new to the pageant circuit and I was only doing it to build my confidence and to have a bit of fun, not to win.”
Both won through to the finals of Miss and Mr England and Jack went on to claim his title and qualify for a crack at the Mr World crown.
Niamh expects she will now be seeing a bit less of Jack than she has so far as public appearances around the world will take him away more during his two-year reign.
But the couple are accustomed to conducting a long distance romance - they travel up and down between Chorley and Bishop Stortford on a weekly basis - so it is something they feel they can handle.
And when Jack travels up to Preston, his first port of call is the shop of his favourite florist Margaret Mason to buy a bunch of flowers for Niamh.
“We live quite a distance apart, but we haven’t found that too difficult,” said Niamh. “We don’t think about it. You just have to commit to it and get on.
“This week Jack’s been over in Las Vegas for a few days and is heading back. This weekend is the second anniversary of when we got together, so we are planning to get away for a couple of days somewhere nice and quiet.
“Mr World is Jack’s job now and he has to be available for any events they invite him to. So it will be nice to just relax and have a bit of quality time together before he’s off again.”
Niamh, who is hoping to start up her own tutoring company and do some presenting work after graduating with a first in primary teaching, is thrilled by the career opportunities Jack will have over the next two years, even though that means he will be jetting around the world without her.
“He has got to seize every opportunity that he can while he has this title. But to me he will always be Mr World.
“He wants to spread awareness about how important science can be and improve the climate. He will be doing a bit of modelling, public speaking and doing TV roles. There’s a bit of everything that can come with being Mr World.
“But he will do it all very well. He is very self-assured, but not arrogant. He is still very humble. When all the contestants at Mr World were asked who they would like to win if they didn’t, they all said Jack.
“He’s wonderful. He hasn’t changed who he is. I know how amazing he is and it’s nice to see other people can see that now.”