Slough is home to its own beauty queen, with Arya Naik having been crowned Miss Asia GB in 2023.

The 21-year-old from Langley entered her first pageant on a whim after catching the attention of a former star who thought Arya had what it takes to wow the judges.

However, nothing could have prepared Arya for the rest of the year which saw her enter three pageants, flying around the world to represent the UK and India - all while continuing her degree at Bournemouth University. 

On Friday, May 26 at a glamorous pageant at The Courtyard by Marriot London Heathrow Airport, Arya took home her first titles; Miss Popular, Best Catwalk, Best Talent & People’s Choice Award and the all-important title of Miss Asia GB 2023.

Arya said: "I remember being backstage hoping for one crown - I didn't expect to walk out with three.

"In that moment my mind was blank - I was shocked.

"I now have such an influence over people. I can inspire them with what I have done - I was the youngest in the pageant - age is just a number."

On her first win, Arya said: "I feel like this crown isn't just mine it's a big win for my entire family and all my friends - and everyone who voted."

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Miss Asia GB was a springboard that saw her flying out to Pune, India in June for Miss Asia Worldwide.

There she underwent a week of training, introductions and the event day.

"I ended up winning Miss Beautiful Face India Worldwide, so I didn't come back empty-handed," she said.

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Arya said the experience was "daunting" as other competitors had been preparing for the pageant for months, while Arya had just two weeks to prepare.

The pageant coincided with the end of Arya's second year of university and the beginning of her placement in a PR agency, which was pushed back by a month so she could compete.

Arya was just getting back to normality when she was approached by another pageant director who wanted her to participate in Miss Progress International in Italy from September 15 to 25.

Her experience of what was her third pageant began as an isolating ordeal which saw her alone in a foreign country.

However, persevering Arya left the pageant having met her now best friend.

"Everyone cried on the last day. It was like a sisterhood because we were there for 10 days," she said.

Arya won Miss Best National Costume and made it into the top three in the Environment Task Group.

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"Miss Progress International was my favourite pageant to participate in."

"At Miss India Worldwide, we had training all seven days apart from the day of the actual event from like 9am to 9pm, and even though I learnt a lot, I felt like I didn't really connect to everyone there."

Arya's training included how to catwalk, pose and answer. 

"I didn't feel like I had the chance to bond with anyone, since everyone was taking it so seriously the entire time, which obviously is important, but I think we needed more time to just sort of get to know each other, relax, and just chill a bit.

"Miss Progress International, we definitely got to do all of that."

Since returning to the UK, Arya said her friends and family have been very supportive.

"It was so nice to see how proud everyone was.

"My family have been so proud of me, they have always been supporting me. It is nice to see how much everyone cares.

"Even if I go and don't win anything I know they will be proud that I was representing something."

Pageants have opened many doors for Arya who has now been approached to model.

She also attends events as a special guest as a representative of Great Britain.

Arya was born in India but moved to England when she was just two years old.

Her family have always been creative and she has been into Hindi film, dancing and acting from a young age - which she said wasn't vastly different to pageantry.

"I've always been a little drama queen," she joked.

A love for "vibrant" and "energetic" Bollywood films saw Arya later take dance lessons from famous Choreographer Shiamak Davar from age 11.

However, Arya stopped her dance lessons to undertake her degree in PR and marketing.

Arya has no plans to enter any future pageants, saying the cost and time pressures are difficult to manage alongside university, however, she has begun to undertake brand collaborations. "It is exhausting but very rewarding," she said.

Looking back Arya said: "Going into pageants no matter how confident you are you do doubt yourself sometimes, in Italy the first night was awful and I felt like I didn't belong. But once you make friends it's all good and you don't want to leave.

Arya will be crowning the next Miss Asia GB next year.

"It is a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking of doing it."