04:30PM, Wednesday 07 August 2019
I didn’t think mermaids were real until I spoke to Berkshire’s entry to Miss Mermaid UK.
But Amy Blunden can embody a mermaid to such a degree that you fleetingly believe you’re talking to the real deal.
True to her name, her mermaid alter-ego Harmony sings melodically and is in perfect equilibrium with nature, living half of her life on land and half of her life in the sea.
When in the water she does her best to keep it clean and tidy, and look after the marine life. When she’s on solid ground, she raises money for marine conservation charities.
How do you separate fact from fiction? By asking Amy if she thinks mermaids exist.
She said: “The thought of them being real would be absolutely amazing, but I just don’t think it’s possible.
“But, of course we haven’t explored all of the sea because it’s so vast, so who knows?”
Amy was the star attraction at Norden Farm’s beach launch last month, took part in a mermaid meet-and-greet at Sea Life Blackpool and performs at children’s parties.
Her role in the water involves blowing bubbles, spins, flips and turns, all while wearing her mono-fin ‘Finis Rapid’.
“I take it very seriously,” she said. “I do regard myself as a professional mermaid, but I enjoy it so much, I don’t think I’ll ever look at it as a job.”
Amy, from Holyport, first learnt about mermaiding when she attended MCM London Comic Con last year.
She was there taking part in cosplay competitions (dressing as fictional characters) as Sergent Calhoun from the film Wreck it Ralph and Pennywise, the clown from IT.
A seamstress by day, Amy had made her outfits herself.
She said: “Through that I met a lot of people who do mermaiding, which was a whole new world of cosplay I didn’t even know existed.”
In March, Amy joined a mermaid Facebook group and in April she attended MerCon, run by Merfolk UK, in London.
At MerCon, stall holders included tail makers and diving coaches, and Amy did an afternoon of swimming.
She said: “It was just so exciting, just feeling so free in the water and feeling so comfortable.”
In June, Amy went to ‘Mercamp’, run by Hire a Mermaid UK, where she was trained to conduct herself in a safe manor when in the water at children’s pool parties.
“You have to look in control, because at the end of the day, you are a mermaid and you live in the sea,” she said.
She added: “I can hold my breath for two minutes, but at a party I wouldn’t do that.”
Amy said children are ‘inquisitive’ and she has been asked how old she is (20 in human years and 200 in mermaid years), what she does for a job (shell collector) and ‘how do mermaids have babies?’.
Amy said: “I’m not old enough to know that yet.”
In September, she will represent Berkshire in Miss Mermaid UK at the Madejski Stadium in Reading.
Rounds include swimming in a mono-fin for 50 metres under water in one breath, modelling an eco-friendly ‘flamboyant mermaid inspired costume’ and posing for an underwater photo shoot.
There is also an optional talent round in which Amy will sing, and it is also optional to fundraise for the contest’s chosen conservation charity, yet to be announced, which Amy is also doing.
Amy said: “I’ve always struggled with friendships and being in the wrong group, and through mercamps and the community, I definitely feel like I’ve found a place where I belong.
“Everyone is so lovely and always looking out for you and I feel I’ve met some truly amazing friends.”
Amy has met mermaids, mermen and gender-neutral merfolk. She said, “It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re comfortable in a tail.”
To find out more about Amy and her fundraising efforts go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mermaidharmony and for more on Miss Mermaid UK go to www.hireamermaid.co.uk/miss-mermaid-uk/miss-mermaid-tickets/
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