Limavady Grammar student Rachel Wallace says it would be a dream come true if she wins the prestigious ‘Face of Ireland’ competition.
The 18-year-old beauty is “over the moon” after being plucked to represent County Derry. She says the role means she can be an ambassador, which she says is an “an honour”.
“My mum actually entered me into the competition in January. When I found out I was over the moon as not only is it a modelling competition, you are also an ambassador for your country which would be a great honour as I really enjoy meeting new people and would like to promote my country in anyway possible,” said the 5 ft 11 student.
“I’ve never been involved in anything on this level before. There were over 29,000 applicants this year as this is the largest competition of its kind in Ireland. I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of interest that I’ve been receiving since winning my heat last Saturday, but very privileged and seeing that I’m the youngest in the competition makes it even more memorable.”
Rachel’s involvement in the competition started back in January.
“I was shocked when I got an email saying I was selected to the next stage for an audition day. After being successful in that I moved onto the semi final. We had to do an interview with Audrey McGrath from RTE, Eamon Horan from RTE and Nikki Hayes who is a Radio Broadcaster. The host of the competition was Deric Hartigan who is the weather Broadcaster. The semi final was televised on TV3 and TV4. I am now through to the grand final for Face of Ireland 2012. This time last week I was preparing for the semi final and now I’m overwhelmed with all the attention that I’m receiving but I’m also very honoured.”
The final will take place on 14th and 15th October this year and it will be held in Morans Red Cow Hotel in Dublin which is one of the sponsors. The final will consist of 25 girls from all over Ireland who have been selected at semi final level.
“I’m going to represent Co. Derry in the final and really looking forward to the event. Well known compere Lisa Cannon will host the show with television and press interviews for the finalists beforehand. It will be shown on TV3/TV4 and RTE.”
The event will last two days with a fashion show on the 14th and the Gala final on the 15th where contestants have to do another interview.
“We have to do a performance in front of an audience, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. I’ve always wanted to learn Irish Dancing so I might give that a go.”
Rachel says her family and friends have been more than supportive.
“My family and I knew this was a big competition, but we we’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of interest there has been in it,” she said. “My family have been very supportive especially my mum as she accompanied me down to Dublin. My friends are all very interested in it as well. A lot of people from different parts of the North have been contacting me about it and wishing me well.”
So, does Rachel think she can bring the title back to Derry?
“Of course, I’d love to win but, even if I don’t, it’s been a fantastic experience so far. It would be an honour to represent my country on an international stage and one of the highlights would be leading the St Patrick’s Day parade for Ireland in New York. You would also be involved with other Irish associations from all over the world. The winner will be a charity ambassador, take part in fashions/wedding shows and other engagements. Furthermore, the winner will be involved in promoting Irish tourism abroad.”
She added: “It would be a dream come true to win the competition but the finals are not for another six months. I’m just enjoying the experience as I am delighted to have got this far. The competition has been running for five years and gone from strength to strength. It supports the 1Life charity which is a suicide prevention helpline. It would be fantastic to win and bring the title back to the North as it’s been 5 years since Northern girl Jill Wallace won it. Maybe the fact that she has the same surname as me is a sign. Some people say that competitions like this can give out the wrong message to young girls. In my opinion competitions like the Face of Ireland give women a voice. This isn’t just a modelling competition it is about representing the whole of Ireland to the best of your ability.”