The new Miss Donegal is Newtowncunningham woman Natasha McFadden.
The 21-year-old was crowned at a ceremony in Letterkenny last week and revealed to the ‘Journal’ how she hadn’t even told her boyfriend she was entering the competition.
“Delighted” Natasha said: “It was a last minute decision. One of my friends, who is in Australia, tried to get me to take part every year. I wouldn’t as I had this perception of: ‘I’m short, I’m not a size six.’ But, I’ve done a lot of stuff this last year and I decided to go for it.”
Natasha was one of over 100 applications, shortlisted to 24 for the finals in the Mount Errigal Hotel.
She admits she was “terrified” before the event.
“I hadn’t a clue what I was walking into and didn’t know what was expected of me,” she said.
However, after showing up in formal wear and negotiating the catwalk, Natasha was in the final seven. The final round saw her asked a number of questions in front of the judges, who were more than impressed.
She admits she was “shocked” when it was revealed she was the new Miss Donegal and the host made her call her boyfriend of two years, Chris Coyle, while she was on stage.
“I didn’t tell him beforehand,” she said,
“The only people who knew were my mammy Rosaleen Doherty and two cousins. I have a huge family and knew they’d all be there with bells on but I was so nervous and knew I couldn’t do that. I did tell Chris I was doing a fashion show and he could come if he wanted but he has a huge family too and it would have made me ten times more nervous.”
She said Chris was “shocked” when she told him and was also “delighted” for her.
Natasha said the night was the highlight of a “mental, crazy week” during which she also completed her final exams in Hospitality and Tourism Management at University of Ulster, one of which was held the very next day after the competition. She has also just started a new job as manager of a cafe.
She said she is “so excited” about the year ahead and hopes to raise awareness of and raise money for two charities close to her heart, Aware Defeat Depression and the Donegal Hospice.
Natasha said it is an “honour” to represent the county and she’s looking forward to the Miss Ireland finals in August. She already has a packed itinerary of events ahead.
She said: “It will be a busy year. I thought, after I finished college, that I’d get a break, but it doesn’t seem so. Not that I’m complaining. I’d just like to thank everyone who made it possible, including the judges, my manager Emmette Dillon, the sponsors Letterkenny Shopping Centre and Tara Henderson International who is sponsoring my dress for the final and my hair and make up for the year, my boyfriend Chris and my fiends and family.”
Natasha will be looked after for the rest of the year by Derry man, Emmette Dillon, a former Mr Derry and organiser of Miss Derry and Miss Donegal.
Emmet told the Journal he and the rest of the judges, which included Buncrana woman Nicola McLaughlin (The Sequin Cinderella), Tara Henderson, Lisa McDevitt and Dylan Reid, were blown away by Natasha.
He said she would be a “great ambassador for Donegal” and wanted to promote charities and healthy body image.