Belfast Telegraph

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Meet the Northern Ireland mums who are stars on Instagram

Anna with her daughters Bella and Annie
Anna with her daughters Bella and Annie
Sweet meeting: Laura-Ann Barr with her children Bertie and George
Laura-Ann with the Duchess of Cambridge
All smiles: blogger Anna Corry and her daughter Annie waiting for the royals
Windsor watcher: Louise Mair
Windsor watcher: Louise Mair

By Helen Carson

With their impeccable taste and creativity, these local women have amassed tens of thousands of followers on social media. Helen Carson meets them and gets an insight into their Insta-enviable lifestyles.

Laura-Ann Barr (31) is a full-time blogger at www.prettymuchme.co.uk and has 57,500 followers on Instagram. She lives in Belfast with her husband Chris (35) and their children Bertie (4) and George (2).

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Sweet meeting: Laura-Ann Barr with her children Bertie and George
 

Laura-Ann says:

I heard the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were here and went to Windsor Park to see Kate. I'd met her before at a garden party in Hillsborough. Although I wasn't due to meet her on that occasion, I brought a bunch of flowers in the hope of catching her attention and it worked. She came over to speak to me, but I was very nervous. She asked me my name but I couldn't speak, I just smiled at her awkwardly.

On their most recent visit to Belfast, I put George in his little suit and went to wait outside Windsor Park in the hope of seeing her.

We had to wait quite a while, so I had some sweets to keep him occupied. Kate spotted him with his sweets and said 'hello, what's your name?' Then she said, 'Hi George, what a cool name you've got, and you look very smart in your bow tie. It's very nice to meet you.' She asked how old Bertie was and when I said four she replied 'the same age as Lottie'.

She asked him was his sweet a Refresher and could she have it. He teased her with the sweet then put it in his mouth and stuck his tongue out at her. The moment that happened all the press cameras started clicking away to get the picture.

I had a picture myself but before I had a chance to upload it to Instagram my phone started beeping. Hundreds of people were messaging me because they had already seen it online. Lots of national newspapers were trying to contact me and at one stage it was the most viewed picture on the Daily Mail website.

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Laura-Ann with the Duchess of Cambridge

I have been blogging full-time for six months after leaving a part-time job at Simon Brien Residential estate agents in Belfast, where I still sometimes provide cover at busy periods.

My husband and I are currently building a new home in the country and I blog about it a lot. It seems to be something a lot of people are interested in - from the planning to choosing suppliers for windows and picking colour schemes - all the trials and tribulations.

I also feature interior schemes and shots of our family life online. I also love baking and crafting which I blog about - I was the youngest member of the Women's Institute here when I was 11. I joined because I wanted to go on the WI craft weekends when I was young.

I started blogging when I was on maternity leave with Bertie four years ago.

At the start it was a hobby, so I would post pretty pictures of interiors and day-to-day life. By the following summer it had grown so it was a natural step to do it full-time.

People who follow me like to ask questions about interiors and my home. They are mostly from Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK, and I also get a lot of comments from America and other countries worldwide.

I love creating nice photographic scenes but started out taking pictures with an iPhone.

I'm self-taught but have taken one-day online photography courses and invested in a professional camera. Since I started blogging I've grown to love photography and want to improve my skills.

I work with brands which Kate loves such as LK Bennett and Hobbs. I've always liked her style since she first started dating Prince William.

She's a good role model for young women and always looks elegant - she looks good in anything. She's a duchess so she has to have a classic look. She oozes class and elegance. I like the way she dresses because it's often from the high street.

In Belfast she was chatting to me for a while - I was surprised she stayed so long. She is very engaging and personable and seems to enjoy being surrounded by children."

  • Visit Laura-Ann's blog at www. prettymuchme.co.uk or on Instagram @all.thats.pretty

Louise Mair (50) is a wedding and events stylist with 39,000 followers on Instagram. She lives in Ballymena with her husband Charles (52), a manager at Your Move. They have two grown-up daughters, Rebecca (30) and Hannah (21), and two grandchildren, Joshua (6) and Lydia (3).

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Windsor watcher: Louise Mair
 

Louise says:

I've always loved the royal family, as did my late mother, Jean. The day Kate and William were due to visit Ballymena I'd heard a rumour they would be in the town.

My daughter called me to say the town hall had been cordoned off and she wanted to bring her little girl Lydia down in case there was a chance we would see Kate.

We stood on the wrong side of the road to get a chance to meet the royal couple, and they spent longer than expected talking to people at the bottom of the hill so then they went straight to the town hall. We decided to wait - it was three hours in total before we got to see Kate. She came right over and gave a little wave - she didn't come over to talk but we got a lovely picture.

It was so special for Lydia who was so happy to have seen a real princess. As far as she was concerned, Kate was smiling just at her and waving at her - she couldn't speak afterwards.

Her mum Rebecca dresses Lydia in the same brands worn by Princess Charlotte, such as Rachel Riley, Pepa & Co London and La Coqueta.

Kate was so lovely and very natural - she didn't seem very guarded in what she said.

She admitted to feeling broody but wouldn't know what William would have to say about that. They are pretty different from the older royals and seem very normal.

I've followed the royals avidly and think the young generation are a breath of fresh air. They've made me fall in love with the royal family again - I became disillusioned with it after Diana's divorce from Prince Charles. I wrote to the Palace after the divorce and when the boys lost their mother, and I received lovely responses from Kensington Palace.

My late mum Jean was a royalist. I nursed her for three years when she had cancer. The day before she died last year, the only thing that made her smile was when I brought her in all the newspapers with pictures of Kate and William bringing Prince Louis out of the hospital. It was the last thing to make her smile and it was mesmerising.

I love everything about Kate - she is so lovely. We had to wait a long time out in the cold with the wee ones in Ballymena to see her but I'm so glad we did it.

Seeing the royal photographer Arthur Edwards in Ballymena was also wonderful. I don't think many people recognised him but I did. He saw me looking at him and smiled. He was beside my friend Margaret and her young son Adam who were talking to him. He took their picture and shared it on his Twitter account and sent her some of the pictures he had taken of Kate that day.

Arthur always talks so beautifully about Diana - he is a lovely man.

I went on Facebook and began my blog eight years ago as a hobby. I had worked as a visual merchandiser and would occasionally create themes for events. A photographer suggested I do it full-time.

When I was looking after my mum I realised I could make extra money by theming events and then blogging about it.

I work with Galgorm Resort and have done royal-themed events for them and I supply vintage tea cups for weddings.

In 2016 I was invited to be a guest blogger for Kate Middleton's parents' company, Party Pieces. They liked my style and said it would be a good fit for their website.

In recent months I've just been doing the fun thing for the blog. Since losing mum I've had ups and downs and didn't want to feel under pressure.

I've featured lots of different things on the blog but the most popular posts are recipes."

  • Visit Louise's blog at www.thevintageroom.info or on Instagram @thevintageroom

Anna Corry (30), founder of AC Connects Consultancy, writes on her blog, Blossoming Birds, and has 56,000 followers on Instagram. She lives in Ballymena with husband Colin (31), an aerospace engineer, and their two children Bella (5) and Annie (3).

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All smiles: blogger Anna Corry and her daughter Annie waiting for the royals
 

Anna says:

I only realised William and Kate were visiting when I was driving past the school in Ballymena which they were scheduled to visit. I had just picked my little girl Annie up from school and thought it would be a once in a lifetime experience to catch a glimpse. I took Annie home to get changed, grabbed a snack and we set off to catch a glimpse of a real life princess. I didn't get talking to Kate but one of her team came over to take the flowers Annie was holding. She wasn't able to stop and chat to anyone as they were heading straight into the school. 

For Annie, just catching a glimpse of Kate was enough. She is a princess fan and although rumour has it she was wearing sky blue for Ballymena, Annie knew it was truly 'Elsa Blue'.

What I love about Kate is that she's a working mum too, juggling her kids and royal duties which she does so well. I travel a lot with work too and know the military planning operation that goes into that. I always admire other women and wonder how they find the balance.

She looked beautiful when we saw her at the local school in Ballymena.

We had waited for about 40 minutes and I'd brought a little picnic.

Annie really loved the buzz and excitement of it all.

My blog Blossoming Birds started four years ago when I was off on maternity leave. I wanted a little escape and others to communicate with without leaving the house which was no easy task with two children under two.

The success of my blog, specifically my Instagram, led me to setting up my business, AC Connects, which helps support businesses with their social media marketing. 

My blog and Instagram have evolved so much in the four years I've been posting.

They used to be more focused on parenting but now I feel it's more fashion and interiors focused. 

I spend most of my time posting on Instagram and not so much on the blog these days. I really enjoy the conversation and creativity that you can get from being online.

While I'm not really a mad royal fan I do like Prince Harry - he seems to have a down to earth nature. Meghan seems lovely too - what I most enjoy about the royals is their sense of style and seeing what they're up to."

  • Visit Anna's blog at www.blossomingbirds.com or on Instagram @blossomingbirds

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