Belfast Telegraph

Inspirational Derry mum Jennifer Taylor wins Mrs Ireland title

By Jill Goligher

A full time working mum from Londonderry has won the Mrs Ireland 2018 pageant held in Dublin.

Jennifer Taylor, from the New Buildings area of the city, beat six other contenders to win the title.

Whilst at her work one day the 32-year-old, who is the marketing manager for Richmond Shopping Centre, received a phone call from a pageant representative of 'Miss Earth' seeking sponsorship for the pageant.

Jennifer said: "At the time of the phone call I had never been aware there even was a pageant industry in the UK and Ireland, but now three years later I am totally immersed in the world of pageants.

"Before this I had never competed of judged a pageant. Now I have judged three Miss Earth Northern Ireland Finals, sending three beauties to an International Final - one random phone call definitely changed everything."

After threes years of judging beauty pageants Jennifer decided to try her hand at one herself. Similar to Miss Ireland, Mrs Ireland is open to women who are married.

When asked about Mrs Ireland she said: "It's a wonderful system, more like a family than a competition."

"It promotes a very kind ethos and is very charity orientated, donating toys to the Temple Street Kids Hospital for Christmas.

"It is inclusive and welcomes people of all sizes, shapes, ages and background This totally appealed to me and it was an honour to be picked to be a finalist."

During the beauty competition, Jennifer took part in four rounds of competition; interview, fashion wear, Irish wear and evening gown. The contestant with the most combined points was then crowned the winner:

"I was so delighted to win awards for Best in Fashion wear, most photogenic and then the magical cherry on top, the title of Mrs Ireland 2018."

As well as having the beautiful looks of a 'queen' Jennifer is a full time working mum and a wife.

Jennifer admitted she did struggle mentally and suffered a few setbacks during her preparation.

"I suffer with depression and anxiety. It's been a tough six months mentally to get prepared to be 'judged.'

"Due to my mental health issues I've struggled with my weight and felt I wasn't the right weight to take part in a pageant, but thats just stereotypes."

Jennifer added: "Pageants are so inclusive and they really do appreciate all contestants and encourage diversity. Though I struggled to feel like I was good enough, taking part in the pageant has given me a new lease of life and confidence and really made me realise I'm perfect as I am.

"Even strangers can see that. My family and friends have all been so supportive and have given me the strength to see the competition through to the end."

She and her husband Kris have a 5-year-old son, Zachary who suffers from autism. During her prep and training for Mrs Ireland, the couple were in the finals stages of little Zacharys Autism assessment.

She commented: "A process that's taken nearly two years to complete. We are so proud of our little astronaut."

Overall Jennifer has described her Mrs Ireland experience as :"tumultuous."

"I've had my good days and very very bad days when I've wanted to give up, but I didn't and I'm so glad that I didn't.

"My hope is that with the title I will be able to raise awareness for the importance of lowering the waiting times for Autism assessment."

Jennifer said she is looking forward to her year ahead as the newly crowned Mrs Ireland, with lots of new experiences:

"I'm so excited to meet new People, raise money and awareness for my two platforms and really just see my confidence grow and grow and learn to accept myself for who I am and find managing my mental illness better.

"I just want to make everyone proud especially my husband, my son, my family and my pageant family.

"I'm so looking forward to my year as Mrs Ireland 2018 and am still in shock!"

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