Grace, Charm of Helen Prest Ajayi at 60

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Helen Prest Ajayi

A pageant is a curious thing. It crowns a jewel acclaimed by consensus as the most beautiful among her peers. Yet it makes no allowance for the future fading of beauty, the vagaries of life, and the desires of the individual which, as it morphs along with increasing maturity, might take her in the opposite direction to the land of fame the crown she wears seem to point at.

And so it is that the vast majority of those that wore the crown of Miss Nigeria were lost to the annals of time, fading from the scene as soon as their one year of obligatory fame was up. Some were undone by the beauty that was only skin deep. Some by mouth-widening controversies that made them beat a hasty retreat to the permanent safety of their anonymous cocoons. A few continue to bestride the scene, ever lovely and beautiful and respected for their brains as well as looks.

Among this latter group, Helen Prest Ajayi stands apart. Affirmed the original celebrity when the world was still black and white and unused to daily rise and weekly fall of fads and flower girls, Helen has lived a charmed life. Since winning the Miss Nigeria beauty pageant in 1979, her world changed forever. But Helen did not change with it. Perhaps, this is why she remains so respected; kind, humble and classy.

Helen Prest remains beautiful, lovely and oozes grace. She has depth, a mix of loveliness and intellect, which are very rare with modern-day beauty queens, who often thrive only on the outward appearance. The former Miss Nigeria who turned 60 on Tuesday, September 17 knocks people 20 younger out with her youthful looks.

Agile and quick on her feet, Helen Prest has long been the object of attention. As a young woman, many craved her friendship. Many more craved her heart. Eventually she bestowed it on Dr Tosin Ajayi. Her choice proved a happy one: a home of love, three grown daughters, and a thriving business are as good a testament as any.

As a beauty queen, she was the cynosure of all eyes — and not just common ones either. She made grand trips all over the world meeting heads of states and global legends, some of whom have since transitioned into the annals of history. Whatever she wore became the fashion of the day. Whatever she did set the standard ladies followed. She was the original style queen at a time when style meant more than just spending the most amount of money on the most glamorous wears.