Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland barrister Anita wins Miss Bikini title

She is a legal eagle by day, but Banbridge mum-of two dons a swimsuit at night to enter fitness competitions

By Claire McNeilly

One of Northern Ireland's top barristers has revealed her unexpected double life - she is also an award-winning bikini fitness model.

Mother-of-two Anita Williamson-Graham is getting used to holding court outside chambers after she finished first in the Miss Bikini over-40s category in the Fitness Model Northern Ireland championship.

And now, the 45-year-old legal eagle from Banbridge, who is as comfortable on stage in swimwear as she is in her barrister's wig and gown, is hoping to go one step further by securing a world title in Dublin this Saturday.

In an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Anita, who only started training in May, said a desire for new challenges made her want to compete.

"I was always into fitness and a couple of friends suggested that I go down this route," she said.

Although she was already in great shape, Anita credits local trainer Michelle Moult for pushing her to the limit, as well as Aaron Donaghy, from Ultra Fitness in Banbridge, who provided a strict nutritional plan for making her ultra fit.

Her first competition was in the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick in September, when she won Miss Bikini over-40s and came third in the Yummy Mummy category in the championship run by Martin and Peppe Spence. The following month, Anita once again secured the Miss Bikini top title and gained second place in the Yummy Mummy section.

"I'm not sure how many people I was up against - or who beat me - because I was so focused on the event each time," she admitted.

Anita - who practices criminal, civil and family law - explained that she must perform a routine to music in front of the judges in this Saturday's World Fitness Model Championships, where she'll be competing in the same categories.

"It's not like a bodybuilding competition, where everybody's pumped up," she said.

"Miss Bikini is a more defined category where you go out and do a few poses to music, as if you were doing a fashion show, but obviously you're wearing a bikini."

She added: "Going on stage I'll be stressed to the max, but it's an enjoyable experience, whereas work - which is also stressful - isn't always that way."

Although Anita enjoys the full support of her builder husband Walter (44) and their two children, Molly (15) and nine-year-old Oliver, she said her somewhat unusual sideline can be gruelling.

A typical day comprises an almost military regime that involves 6.30am training at home, ahead of a day's work, and then squeezing in an evening workout as well.

But she said the strict nutritional diet is one of the toughest elements of her training regime.

"The family might be tucking into chips and burgers while I have stick to fish, chicken and turkey on a four-day rotation, usually with salad or nuts and, as you can imagine, that gets quite sickening," she said.

Referring to a recent furore in which an English female lawyer named and shamed a male lawyer for complimenting her LinkedIn profile picture, Anita said she was comfortable being a barrister with a passion for fitness modelling.

"The whole politically correct situation has gone a bit too far," she said.

"If the person is genuine and there's nothing behind it, then I'm not going to take a compliment as an offence.

"When people tell me I look amazing, I know I've put the work in and it has been hard, so I'll take that compliment.

"Work colleagues have told me I'm an inspiration, while friends have asked for fitness advice.

"I want to inspire others by doing something different. I don't feel 45. I like to challenge myself."

She added: "My last challenge was in 2013, when I won the district's NSPCC Strictly Come Dancing alongside my dancing partner Neil Keery.

"We were one of 10 couples who trained for six months ahead of the event."

For the moment, Anita - who has been involved in numerous high-profile cases in recent years - said she hasn't been getting any strange looks in court.

"People haven't really connected the dots - well, not yet, anyway!"

Belfast Telegraph


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