Student Anna Henry 'still in the clouds' after Miss Northern Ireland win
Co Antrim student engineer Anna Henry says she still can't believe she's won the Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland 2017 title - admitting her head is 'still in the clouds' after being crowned.
The 22-year-old, from Portglenone, impressed the panel of judges following a glittering black tie event at the Europa Hotel in Belfast on Monday night.
Anna will now represent Northern Ireland at the Miss World finals in China next year.
Q. How are you feeling after being crowned Miss Northern Ireland - has it sank in yet?
I'm feeling absolutely ecstatic, but I think I'm still in the clouds and haven't come back down to earth yet.
It will probably take me a couple of days to get my head around everything but I'm completely over the moon.
I think it sank in a little bit whenever I went on to Facebook last night and saw my newsfeed - it was just pictures of me with tears in my eyes. I think that was the first time it kind of hit me.
It will take a couple of days to just come to terms with everything but I am just ready to jump in with everything.
Q. How did it feel when they called you name as the winner?
There were 24 beautiful, talented girls in the competition and then we were narrowed down to ten, and then five, and then when they started to call out who came in third place and then second... I was really nervous.
I was still there and I thought 'Well I've one more chance or else I'm going home empty-handed'. Of course I would have still been very happy with that because I have had an amazing experience over the whole competition with the girls.
But then after about 30 seconds of build up music my name was called out as the winner and I think I just went into a state of shock. In times like that you have no time to think, and you are just straight up on to the stage with the cameras on you and given your crown.
I just had to compose myself and I don't think my smile has left my face since it happened.
Once I saw the reaction of the crowd it was totally worth the months of hard work, commitment and determination.
Q. What have you been doing in the few hours since your crowning - you must be very busy?
I had a 6 o'clock start this morning, so only a couple of hours sleep. Then I had my hair and make up done, then a photoshoot and loads of interviews for the radio and newspapers.
We are ticking boxes slowly but surely - we've a busy few days ahead.
Q. Why did you enter the Miss Northern Ireland competition?
It's every young girls dream to have a crown on their head, but for me it was also seeing previous winners go forward to the Miss World finals and get to experience those other cultures for a number of weeks. It's just something I've always wanted to do.
And it's not just about the crown, smiling and taking pictures, there's the charity aspect of it as well that I really wanted to get involved with.
There's also all the sponsors in the competition, and ACA Models, who have donated so much time and energy to all us girls and it's been a great experience working with them.
So all of that made me want to do it and commit a year of my life completely fulfilling everything that they want me to do.
Q. The next big step now is the Miss World finals - how are you feeling about that?
I've hardly had a chance to think about it, but I will admit I've had a sneaky peek at the venue in China and it looks amazing, it looks like something out of a book.
So I'm really looking forward to that and just getting everything prepared and working hard for it.
Q. How have your family and friends reacted to your win?
I have been completely overwhelmed by their support - before I had messages saying good luck, now I'm getting messages saying congratulations, it's unbelieveable.
It's exactly how I wanted it to go and my family have been completely overwhelmed by it all, we are just a wee country family so this is a massive thing for us and even the local community in Portglenone.
I'm going back tomorrow and I'm sure I will get loads of hugs.
Q. How would you describe your Miss Northern Ireland experience?
Absolutely amazing. This weekend in particular with the 24 finalists has just had has been amazing.
You're in your dress and heels the whole time, you're treated out for lunch, you get your hair done and your make up done. There's rehearsals for the final show, so you are practicing for that. The atmosphere was just lovely.
Q. What would you say to any girl thinking about entering the competition in the future?
I would encourage any young girl to do it, and don't think just because you've never done anything like it before you can't give it a go, because four years ago I would have never imagined myself being in this position I am today.
I've thrown myself into the competition, given it my all and taken every opportunity I can and it's got me to where I am today.
It is an amazing contest and I would encourage any girl to enter it.