Former Miss Northern Ireland Tiffany Brien joins Daniel O'Donnell, Ian Paisley, Seamus Heaney, Girls Aloud's Nadine Coyle, Liam Neeson, Jimmy Nesbitt and George Best in our gallery of school images
Recalling her schooldays, estate agent and champion sailor Tiffany Brien (25) said: "At school I was totally different — I was the biggest tomboy ever. I wore trainers and combat trousers the whole time. I’ve sailed all my life but I started sailing competitively when I was 14. Before that took up all of my time, I was doing every sport and joining every team I could be on — everything from cross-country to hockey to table tennis. I went to Rockport prep school, where I stayed until 5.30pm each day. After classes finished I played sport and that suited me down to the ground.
"I always wanted to be a sailor from a very young age and I never made any other plans. I knew even then that I wasn’t going to university. In fact, I never went to a single careers class because sailing was all I was ever going to do.
I never got bullied when I was younger but then again I was quite tough so I don’t think anyone would have had the nerve. Being sporty also brought a lot of friends with it because you were always on a team and you had to get on together.
"I was very into girl-bands at school — I loved the Spice Girls, All Saints and B*Witched. I didn’t really like boybands. And I certainly wasn’t very conscious about my appearance. I don’t think I wore make-up until I was in fifth form and I didn’t dye my hair or get my nails done until I’d won Miss Northern Ireland.
"After Rockport, I went on to Sullivan and then moved to Methodist College. I don’t think I would have changed any of it. I was always quite involved at school and being in teams or groups brings you more friends. I also think playing sport gave me confidence — physical confidence at the very least.
"I got straight As in my GSCEs but didn’t do so well in my A-levels — probably because I was away for most of the year before them. As I said, I didn’t want to go to uni anyway, so I wasn’t overly concerned with my results.
University wouldn’t have been for me — I wouldn’t have been able to do the whole student thing because I would have been "away sailing so much.
"I did take a break from sailing at 22 to do Miss Northern Ireland and after that I became an estate agent.
"Now I have the best of both worlds as I’m working my way up the career ladder and still sailing — I have both the British and Irish Championships next month.”
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