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home alone Miss NI Anna Leitch on spending Christmas in isolation after Miss World

The Miss World finals were cancelled after 23 contestants and 15 staff tested positive

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Ann Leitch (L) in Puerto Rico for Miss World

Ann Leitch (L) in Puerto Rico for Miss World

Ann Leitch (L) in Puerto Rico for Miss World

Miss Northern Ireland Anna Leitch is determined not to be lonely during the holidays after testing positive for Covid.

The beauty queen has to spend the festive season alone after a PCR test on her return from Miss World revealed she’d picked up the virus.

But the primary school teacher is just thankful that she got back from Puerto Rico.

Following an outbreak of Covid at the competition, the final was cancelled after 23 contestants and 15 staff tested positive. They have to remain on the Caribbean island over Christmas.

Anna was tested before flying and a negative result meant she was able to make the journey home.

However, another PCR test at Belfast International Airport revealed she had the virus.

It means she can’t spend Christmas with parents Christopher and Jane and sister Lydia at the family home in Cookstown, or see partner Matt Good, but Anna, who lives alone in her Lisburn apartment, is looking on the bright side.

“I’m just so thankful that I got back. I have to isolate over Christmas but I’m doing it in my own home,” she says.

“There were so many others in Puerto Rico who had to stay there, and some of them are only 18 or 19 and still living with their families who will be missing them so much over Christmas. Some of the Miss World staff have stayed behind to look after them but it will still be very difficult.

“I just have to get through the next few days and be thankful that I’m in my own place. It’s just one of those things.”

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Anna Leitch

Anna Leitch

Anna Leitch

Anna has also warned that her symptoms are mild, and if she hadn’t been travelling, she might not have known she has Covid.

“When I was away, I heard that the amount of cases here has risen in the last couple of weeks.

“I feel like I have a bit of a head cold. If I hadn’t had to take the tests because I was travelling, I’d think I just have a cold.”

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The 27-year-old left for Miss World at the end of November and hasn’t seen her family for six weeks.

The talented musician has missed special festive moments like watching Carols from Kings with her mum, a treasured tradition.

She says being back in Northern Ireland was enough to get her in the festive spirit and face the holiday alone.

“There were trees and decorations in the hotel in Puerto Rico, but it wasn’t the same.

“My boyfriend Matt picked me up from Dublin airport and as soon as I got back to the wettest, coldest country and he put carols on in the car it felt like Christmas.

“When I got home my sister had been in and put my tree up and my mum had stocked up on groceries for me.

“My sister has also brought supplies to the front door for me and it was terrible that we couldn’t even hug each other, but we’ll be together in a few days.”

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Anna's photo shoot with Paddy McGurgan make-up artist

Anna's photo shoot with Paddy McGurgan make-up artist

Anna's photo shoot with Paddy McGurgan make-up artist

Anna has kept her spirits up by baking and watching festive movies, and her parents delivered her Christmas dinner to her door yesterday. The Miss Northern Ireland team have also kept in contact.

The dedicated P1 teacher at Cookstown Primary School is more anxious about her young pupils than herself and hopes they won’t have to go back to remote learning if temporary restrictions are imposed in January because of the spread of the omicron variant.

“Learning is so much better when it’s face to face. When it’s online you are not seeing the full picture.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the children again. I was supposed to go and see them after I came back from Miss World but obviously I couldn’t. We kept in touch over Zoom while I was away, and they were so excited to see Miss Leitch on holiday.

“They think the teachers live in the school and we have beds in the school.”

Later this week Anna will be able to reunite with her family when her ten-day self-isolation ends and she says it will be the best New Year.

Despite her Covid experience 2021 has already been a life-changing series of photoshoots and runway events since she won the Miss Northern Ireland title in September.

“I did a photoshoot when Paddy McGurgan did my make-up, Denise McCluskey from Michele International did my hair and Khara Pringle did the pictures and it was the best one I’ve ever done in my life. People I know looked at the pictures and didn’t recognise me.

“I loved it because I love acting and it was like playing a completely different character.”

Anna will be back on Miss World duties at the rescheduled final on March 16.

roisin.gorman@sundayworld.com

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