Former Aussie undercover police officer Robyn Morrison is cheering for more reasons than one. Catherine Scott meets the former Neighbours star, cheerleading coach and beauty pageant queen.
Robyn Morrison has an interesting CV.
Undercover police officer for nine years in her native Australia, dancer, actress with a stint in Neighbours to her credit, principal of her own Bradford-based cheerleading school which is about to star in a TV series, wife of a former Bradford Bulls ace and now voted the most beautiful “Mrs” in the UK.
The mother-of-two will now take part in the international finals of Mrs Galaxy in July in Orlando, Florida which could see her crowned the most beautiful wife in the world.
“I’ve never done pageants before so it was a new experience,” explains Robyn who represented Bradford in the national competition.
“My agent suggested I enter and I said ‘aren’t I a little bit too old?’ They said there was a Mrs category, which is new and becoming quite a big thing. It was funny because in the pageant world they spend thousands on big dresses and I literally just got a dress for 50 quid and won.”
The sequins and fake tan of a beauty pageant are a far cry from Robyn’s life just a few years ago in Australia.
“I was an actor and dancer from an early age and then won a scholarship to a prestigious dance school in Sydney. When I graduated I worked as a dancer and actress but I didn’t want to be an out-of-work dancer waiting on tables while I waited for jobs to come and I wanted to get some other career behind me, so, for some reason, I decided to become a cop.”
So for nine years Robyn worked some of the hardest, most crime-ridden areas of Sydney.
“I worked in the drugs squad for seven years in one of the worst areas for drugs in Australia. I was undercover, which really called on my acting abilities; if I got it wrong I could have ended up dead.”
Robyn also worked for two years in child protection.
“It was really hard. I had to deal with a lot of cases involving victims of sexual abuse. I have seen some really terrible things. I don’t regret being in the police at all but I don’t think I could go back to it, especially now I have my own kids.”
Robyn, 35, has two children with her husband, Glenn Morrison, the former Bradford Bulls star. Halle-Blu is nearly eight and Beau is six.
“It does change how you look at things having your own children.”
It was while working in the New South Wales police force that Robyn landed a role on Neighbours.
“I’d been dancing and teaching while I was in the police and then I landed the job in Neighbours – ironically playing a police officer. It meant that I could also act as an advisor to the show.”
But it also meant that Robyn had to give up her “day job” as an undercover cop.
She was already with Glenn, who was a top rugby league player in Australia.
“We went to school together,” explains Robyn. “He was a professional rugby league player and I was doing some coaching and cheerleading for the National Rugby League. We moved over to the UK six years ago and just carried on.”
When the Morrisons moved to Bradford, cheerleading was still a relatively new phenomenon.
“High School Musical really helped to get people interested but up until then cheerleading hadn’t really been taken as seriously as it is in American and Australia.”
Robyn started work coaching the cheerleaders for Huddersfield Town Football club but demand for her skills lead to her opening her own Panache Cheer School in Bradford.
“I now have 400 students aged from two to 75, and five coaches,” says Robyn. And the school has proved so successful that it was has been chosen to feature in a new reality television series on Sky 1 this summer.
“The production company wanted to make a series about cheerleading and were looking at a number of different schools. When they came to us they saw just how talented my girls are. They aren’t your stereotypical cheerleader. They really have something about them. Most of them are at college and are strong independent women, much more than just pretty faces and I think that’s what the TV people really liked.”
The TV cameras spent a month filming Robyn and the cheerleaders she trains, including the Bradford Bulls troupe.
“Being an actress I’m used to the cameras but when you are working you leave the cameras behind and go home. But in this case the cameras came with me. I was a bit apprehensive about how they were going to portray us and although I haven’t seen it yet they really wanted it to be positive.”
For Robyn cheerleading is much more than just a bunch of pretty girls in tan tights shaking pom poms. To her it is a serious sport.
“In American schools it is treated as a sport with youngsters doing weight training and gymnastics. It is all about teamwork. Some of the girls that come to me struggle with other sports they may be a bit bigger than some others and think that they can’t do cheerleading.
“But then they find they can and it is a real boost to their confidence and their self-esteem.
“Some girls have come to me and said that if it hadn’t been for me and cheer school they would more than likely have been pregnant by 15. That sort of thing makes you feel good.”
Robyn’s daughter Halle-Blu is already a champion cheerleader and is now keen to follow in her mum’s beauty queen footsteps.
“I have told her it is far too soon to be doing pageants, I don’t understand these parents who put their little girls in for them. I want them to keep their innocence as long as possible. I didn’t really mean to enter Mrs Galaxy, in fact I thought I’d be far too old. I was then worried that it would be full of bitchy bimbos, but it wasn’t. It was far more than just about looks. There were lawyers and other professionals taking part and they were really interested in what you had to say.
“I have made some good friends and now I am looking forward to representing Yorkshire and the UK at the Worlds and hopefully bringing back the crown.”
Robyn will spend the next year travelling the country, attending charity functions,
Anyone would like to book her for their event can do so by contacting www.panachecheerschool.com.