Young Gilford woman, Lyndsey Berry, could be the Face of Northern Ireland and maybe even Face of the World after being ‘discovered’ on Facebook.
Teenager Lynsey came to the attention of the competition organisers who urged her to enter after they spotted her Facebook profile picture.
The 18-year-old is keen to point out that there is so much more to the Face of Northern Ireland contest than ‘girly glamour’. It stands for what she describes as “beauty with purpose”. For Lynsey this competition is special in that it doesn’t discriminate on the basis of size, hair colour, age or background: everyone, she says, is given the chance to feel beautiful.
Such a powerful message is reflected in the competition’s structure. Over the past few weeks Lynsey has had the chance to get to know her fellow competitors at various charity events, including the Race for Life and she admits that in many respects it no longer feels like a competition. The girls support each other and nerves for the final night on August 22 at the Canal Court Hotel, Newry, are reduced with the knowledge that they all wish each other well.
The supportive nature of the competition is something that Lynsey feels she has benefitted from personally. Left with a scar on her face as the result of a childhood accident she was always aware of beauty pageants (her sister competed in Miss Northern Ireland) but she says that never thought that she would be in one. She explains that she was “too self-conscious and shy”.
But she admits that the competition has given her a whole new sense of confidence, improving her public speaking abilities and helping her to. It is this message of self-confidence and improved self-esteem which Lynsey hopes she’ll be able to pass on from her beauty pageant experience, acknowledging herself that young women often believe that to be a part of such competitions you have to be, in her words, “Skinny and tanned”. This is simply not the case, beauty is more than skin deep as the contest’s charity work serves to prove, she insists.
In fact, at the time of speaking to the Leader, Lyndsey is in England preparing to address her a primary school class whose pupils are taught by her sister.
The class will be holding a charity day with silly hats for the competition’s chosen charity, Headway, the brain injury association. She also has another fundraiser planned closer to home on July 20 at Gilford Bowling Club. Music will be provided by ‘Last Orders’ and there will also be a light supper and lots of raffle prizes. The evening is set to be a great night, everyone is welcome and admission is just £5 and can be paid at the door.