Ballymoney native and Miss Northern Ireland Rebekah Shirley is to take on the world this Sunday as she competes in the final of this year’s Miss World competition in London.
The 18-year-old, who will be supported in her efforts on the night by a 17-strong family contingent from Ballymoney and Coleraine, has described winning Miss NI as the greatest achievement of her life so far.
Speaking about the contest, Rebekah told the Times: “The Miss World competition has been an amazing and life changing experience for me and it is something that I will treasure in my heart forever.
“Being here in London with 124 girls from all over the world has been surreal - we are all so intrigued to find out about everyone and learn about their different cultures.
Describing the opportunity to represent NI on a world stage, she added: “This is my first time in London and I have been able to see the city for its true beauty, as myself and the Miss World girls were lucky enough to take an open top bus tour.
“I can’t believe that in a couple of days I will be standing on the Miss World stage representing Northern Ireland - an absolute dream come true for me.
“My parents, sister, boyfriend, aunts, uncles, cousins, close friends and of course Alison - I especially want to thank Alison Campbell [modelling agent] for enabling me to have this experience,” she added.
“I would like to thank everyone for all their support and it is so humbling to know that Northern Ireland is behind me.”
A past-pupil of Ballymoney High School and Northern Regional College, where she studied TV and film, Rebekah has lived in Ballymoney all her life but harbours aspirations to make it in the world of media.
And The Miss World competition, she said has opened up “so many paths that I could take in the media world and I think this year will help me come to decision of what career choice to take.”
Speaking on behalf of everyone in Ballymoney, Mayor Bill Kennedy said: “I would like to wish Rebekah the very best of luck in the Miss World final on Sunday.
“She really has done Ballymoney proud in her time as Miss Northern Ireland, which was a real boost for the town.
“I am sure she will impress the rest of the world with her charm too.”
The Miss World final will be broadcast live from ExCel London Exhibition and Convention Centre on December 14, and is to be presented by last year’s winner Megan Young alongside Tim Vincent and Frankie Cena, Mr Canada 2013.