The Becoming of the New Mr Leicestershire

Posing at the LCFC Store, Grant Cotton (centred) showing a tourist from Slovakia (far right) the Sights of Leicester.

On May 18th 2015 my uncle suddenly fell ill after sustaining a head injury which he then bravely battled with for 6 months. Alas, the human body can only handle so much, and after fighting for so long my uncle passed away on November 30th 2015. Jim Mulligan was a retired policeman of Leicestershire and was adored by his family, friends and the local communities he served and helped to protect. The fact that mourners had to stand in the isles and exits of St. Patricks church because all the ground floor and balcony seating were already taken was a testament to the great man he was.

On February 5th 2016 I read an article calling for male contestants to compete for the Title of Mr Leicestershire 2016. I was intrigued to read that the organisation is heavily involved in community events and charitable activities. As quoted in the article by the Director of Miss England Angie Beasley, “It is about finding an ambassador to represent the City. It is not about what you look like, they have to be charitable and a good ambassadors to where they live”. Pleased with the prospect of what could be won, I decided to enter myself in to the competition, in the hope of winning and honouring my uncle with any philanthropy work I could give to Leicester and Leicestershire.

Community and charitable causes is nothing new to me. I help manage my parents companies in the Healthcare and Real Estate sectors, where I have regular involvement in their residential care home for learning difficulties. I also thoroughly enjoy being a member of Leicestershire’s HCPT group. We organise events to help fund our yearly pilgrimage to Lourdes which offers both respite for parents and a joyous spiritual holiday for less-able and vulnerable children.

The Mr & Miss Leicestershire 2016 Final was held at the Mercure Grand Hotel on March 17th - St. Patrick’s Day. I am a practicing Catholic and like each year I attended the morning service, but this year I visited my uncle’s grave after to pay my respects and to ask him for some Irish luck on the Final later that evening. Day became night and the big moment approached. The 9 judges had made their decision and the audience fell silent. Linford Martin, the then current Mr Leicestershire, announced me as the new Mr Leicestershire 2016.

As well as charitable events and community involvement, every Mr and Miss I have met, representing various Cities, are extremely passionate about something personal to them that they want to voice and build social awareness for. Whether this be gender equality in sports and employment, eating disorders and social anxieties, victims of bullying and overcoming trauma, or in other cases the winners using their own educational or career successes to encourage the young public to pursue their academic achievements, vocations and to be successful in life. The latter is definitely true for me and what I want my Title to embody.

Academia is not my forte and I struggled in my junior school years at English Martyrs. On top of this, I was faced with, like every other sixteen year old, a huge pressure to acknowledge what my direction in life would be before I leave secondary school. Like most, I didn’t know what my direction in life was yet, but I knew I was passionate about Business. Again I struggled through sixth form in order to get placed at University. It was until I decided to confront my literacy difficulties during my first year at University that I found out I am dyslexic. But this new ‘label’ did not hinder me, after all I had come this far without any excuses. Walking away from Nottingham Trent University in 2012 with a BA Joint Honours in Business Management & International Strategic Enterprise, is something I very much doubt my peers at English Martyrs envisioned, nor that I would go on to successfully manage my family’s businesses.

When you don’t know whether the person you’re visiting in hospital will still be there next week, you become compelled to do more with your life. It was then, the summer of 2015, I decided to face the struggle of academia again and embark on a Masters in Planning & Development, in order to become Chartered and to take the Real Estate side of the family business further.

Our neighbours from across the pond embrace The American Dream and are very much a can do society. Unfortunately, British society can be quite pessimistic and limiting to one’s potential and aspirations for being something greater. I fully intend to use my Title to influence the American attitude on the young public of Leicester and Leicestershire, whilst doing my upmost for the charities and communities I come across during my 2 year reign.

I am currently discussing dates to visit my old school, as well as other schools, to give talks to students on the importance of education and achieving your desires no matter how hard the struggle is, or what life may throw at you. I am also arranging interviews with successful and inspiring people, born and raised in Leicestershire, to offer their guidance and advice to the younger generation, starting with Sir Peter Soulsby.

Join me on my journey and my lead-up to the Mr England 2017 Final, by visiting liking my Facebook Page: ‘Mr Leicestershire 2016’, following me on Instagram:mr_leicestershire and adding me on Snapchat: mrleicester2016