A teenager who has used her voice as Miss Sandwich to create awareness around autism must now pass her crown on.
Alice Watson, 15, of Dover Road, has used her year in the role to inform people in the carnival community about her condition - which affects more than one in 100 throughout the UK.
Having stepped out of her comfort zone by even applying for the position, she says she is now extremely proud to have demonstrated what can be achieved.
She hopes future queens who are given the same platform will continue to raise awareness for other causes and charities.
She said: “The main reason I wanted to do carnival was for the chance to speak out.
“Everyone in carnival knows about autism now and it’s helped them be more accepting and respectful.”
Autism is characterised by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people.
Eight months into the role, Alice launched her Star*t Being Aware campaign.
Through a charity bike ride at Betteshanger, coffee mornings at home and school and posing as a snow queen at last year’s King Street party, she is well on her way to reaching her £1,000 target for the National Autistic Society.
She will continue to fundraise during her year as deputy queen.
She said: “I’ve really enjoyed my year. It wasn’t what I was excepting. I thought it would just be sitting and waving but it’s been great to meet new people.
“It’s improved my happiness, made me get out more and helped me grow in the best possible way.”
She says her highlight was last summer’s annual sports day where all the courts from around the south east come together to play games.
She said: “By this point all of the courts know each other. You’re just in your jeans and a hoody, not your regalia.
"We have a barbecue too and it’s just a really relaxed and fun day.”
Sandwich Carnival Association must now choose a new queen and court.
The selections will be at St Clement’s Church Hall in Church Street on Sunday, March 18 from 12.30pm until 8pm.
Chairwoman Christine Key said: “Alice has been a great ambassador for the town and she’s made carnival more aware.
“She’s also taught people in the town that it isn’t a so-called beauty pageant like people often think it is.
“Being a part of carnival can help grow your confidence and teach you all sorts of skills.”
Entrants must be aged between five and 20 and live in Sandwich or its surrounding villages.
For entry forms or more information about judging times, call Christine on 07730 888991.