Meet Miss Northern Ireland's latest finalists as competition heats up
"I met such incredible women and I love what the competition represents, and that’s what drew me back"
Two lucky finalists have won their places on the Miss Northern Ireland runway with just weeks to go before the competition
Sarah Maguire and Anna Robinson are among the last to join the line-up as the race to find this year’s winner heats up.
At the May 23 final in the Europa Hotel in Belfast, teacher Anna Leitch – who finished in the Miss World top six – will hand on the crown.
Finalist Sarah already knows what to expect at the gala weekend after taking part in the contest last year.
The former transportation manager and Just Eat account manager has come back with a new outlook and a new job for 2022.
“I’d followed the competition, but I didn’t know what it would be like before I took part last year. It was amazing.
“I met such incredible women and I love what the competition represents, and that’s what drew me back,” says Sarah.
As well as embarking on the contest for a second time, she’s about to change careers to dynamic local company Bludot Technologies as its technical sales manager.
The innovative Cookstown company is working with food firms, creating software which can scan an item and identify any allergens, in line with Natasha’s Law.
It’s also developing technology to allow customers at petrol stations to pay for fuel and goods and have them delivered to their cars.
“It’s going to make convenience even more convenient. They are working on lots of different technologies and I’m so excited that my job is to manage the accounts they have already and make sure the technology they have is working properly,” she says.
Sarah, from Armagh, is also working with Pizza Guys, sponsors of the Belfast Giants, to produce videos for the sports team and spends her free time with charity group The Skip Car Crew, run with family members.
It’s celebrating its tenth year helping Marie Curie, Newry hospice and the air ambulance, and it’s raised more than £250,000.
The air crew have a special place in Sarah’s heart after they lifted her dad Tony when he had a heart attack following a brain aneurysm.
He didn’t survive but his encouragement at Miss Northern Ireland last year was one of the reasons Sarah decided to return.
“He came to the competition last year and the memory that sticks in my head is me crying and him laughing and hugging me and telling me how proud he was,” she says.
Anna Robinson will be just days away from her A-level exams when she walks the stage at the final.
The 18-year-old Grosvenor Grammar School pupil has her heart set on studying paramedic science, but she won’t be able to decide on her future until results day.
“I’m doing biology, physics and maths. I’ll either go away to uni to study as a paramedic or stay here and study biology to become a teacher.
“I looked at what paramedics did during lockdown. They are so dedicated, and I always wanted to do something medical.
“I know it’s a hard job and there would be good days and bad days, but I think it’s an incredible career.”
The teenager works part-time at Hillmount Garden Centre, where she started as a Christmas elf, and is a committed volunteer at her local church.
Current Miss Northern Ireland Anna is a role model she’d like to emulate.
“She hosted the heat and she is so generous. It was great to get to know her.”
And Anna is determined that she can combine preparations for the final with her A-levels.
“My exams start on May 26. Maybe I’ll bring flash cards to the Europa and get the other girls to test me,” she says.
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