Co Derry girl, 8, to represent Ireland at international beauty pageant in China
A Co Derry girl has been selected to represent Ireland at an international beauty pageant in China.
8-year-old Alicia Nash did her first pageant back in 2019, joined by her mother Sarah Jane Scully who has been left feeling extremely proud by her daughter's efforts.
The pair decided to take part in separate categories of the Shining Light Pageant held in the city before the pandemic to help build their confidence.
28-year-old Sarah Jane told Be she wanted the pair to get involved in the competition as it raises money towards and awareness of mental health issues.
She said: "Back in 2018, Alicia did all the fundraising in the run up to her first pageant held here in Derry. The ethos of it is to raise awareness of mental health as well as to raise funds for mental heath and suicide prevention charities.
"It wasn't really your typical beauty pageant. The director of it decided she wasn't going to do a swimwear round or an interview round or anything that would make people feel uncomfortable, but to still give people the opportunity.
"We are both due to take part in it again this March. Alicia is a finalist in the Little Miss Category and I am a finalist in the Exquisite Shining Light category."
The Derry mum added: "Me and Alicia both started with it in 2019. I wanted Alicia involved because I thought it would be a good way of building her confidence, and because of the mental health aspect, it was really important to me as well.
"I myself suffer from mental health issues and want to break the stigma of that. I thought it was so good that it was being incorporated.
"It was amazing, I never thought that I would be able to get up on the stage."
Sarah Jane said she has been left with a feeling of pride due to the amount of fundraising her 8-year-old daughter has done to help make a difference.
"Through pageants, Alicia has learnt to help others by doing charity work. Since starting, she has set up her her own annual Christmas gift appeal for the children in our local hospital. This was the third year.
"It all started as she found a love of helping others. It was amazing this year and we had so many toys. It was unbelievable. The local community donated," she said.
The Derry mum added how she wants to break the stigma that sometimes surrounds beauty pageants.
"[Some views of beauty pageants] are completely false. I myself thought that they were all toddlers and tiaras like you see on TV but they are really not.
"It is a sense of community. I still talk to people that were in the first pageant we ever done and they are some of my closest friends. They are there for you, it is more like a family more than anything.
"You raise funds, you go out and do community work, it's not just all about looks. There is an element of personality, community spirit and fundraising. There is always somebody there who is there to help you. It is all about support."
'Global Kids' which will be held in Sanya, China with a date to be confirmed, will be Alicia's first international pageant.
When finding out the Derry child was nominated by the director of Miss Shining Light to represent Ireland, Sarah Jane said she was 'overwhelmed'.
"It was incredible. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that she is going to get to go and represent her country. I am a proud mummy."
The primary school girl added: "I am very excited. I like helping others and taking part in the pageants as I make more friends and I like how me and my mum [did the first one] together. It helped my confidence as it got me up on stage."
Sarah Jane and Alicia have also decided to set up their own pageant, Miss Global Hope, which will take place on August 14, 2022 in Derry.