Tough start in life won't hold Patricia back from pageant dream
- Credit: Patricia Wagner
As troubled starts go, Patricia Wagner's takes some beating.
Adopted as a child and taken to another country, she has had problems with drugs, alcohol and mental health, been involved with gangs and suffered domestic abuse.
Now, however, the 34-year-old mother-of-three from New Costessey is aiming to become a role model for other women, as she represents Norfolk in the finals of Ms Galaxy UK.
Ms Wagner was born in Cameroon but at the age of 10 was adopted and moved to join a new family in France, where she struggled to settle and had only limited contact with her biological parents in Africa.
“We had contact with our parents via letters but they had to be checked by my adopted mother," she said.
“I couldn't tell my parents how unhappy I was and I was forbidden from telling anyone about my real parents.
“It caused me to start running away from home. It was really tough.”
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Ms Wagner became mixed up in a local gang who took her under their wing.
“It was so traumatic. But the skill that I learnt from it was how to be strong,” she said.
Despite her difficult circumstances, Ms Wagner went on to complete her French A-Levels and hoped for a better life as she moved to be with family members in Germany. But her troubles continued there.
She added: “Germany is where the drug and alcohol abuse started. It got out of control. There was also a lot of domestic violence in a relationship I was in; when we would fight it was very bad.
“I started having suicidal thoughts and was taken to a mental health facility. I was just 20-years-old.
“I then became pregnant but I was told to have an abortion. So, I was taken to a hospital in Belgium. That was the most horrible experience of my whole life.”
Ms Wagner and her then partner moved to the UK in 2008, where she had her first child.
The rocky relationship with her partner continued to be plagued by drug and alcohol abuse and social services threatened to take their son away. It was an episode that made her turn her life around.
“My life changed in 2011,” Ms Wagner said. “I stopped drinking and I started going back to church.
“That’s where my journey began, discovering I had beautiful talents, that I am gifted and that my gifts can make a difference in this world.”
Now a single mother-of-three, she made Norfolk her home in 2017. She works as a singer, actress and success coach.
Ms Wagner applied for her first pageant in 2020, when she was a contestant in the Ms British Isles Elegance finals.
She is currently Ms Norfolk Galaxy, and will appear in the finals of Ms Galaxy UK, which are being held on November 26 at Park Hall Hotel, near Preston, Lancashire.
To some the pageantry world may seem like an outdated institution, but Ms Wagner disagrees.
“I believe it’s a way for a woman to show their true values and their beauty - inside and out,” she said. “Especially with a story like mine.
“Today I’m this powerful version of myself and people always say to me ‘you are so happy’. It is proof that nobody's broken past has to be their future.
“Pageants help women realise how much of a difference they make in this world and how much they are needed. Women are important and they bring something very powerful.”
The winner of Ms Galaxy UK will travel to the USA with contestants from all over the world, to compete in the international final, which will be held in summer 2022.