"I could feel the tears stinging in my eyes, I came level with him, and I thought to myself 'I am not going to let him get away with that!'"
At just twelve years old Rose suffered verbal abuse by a bully. She decided she was not going to let him get away with it. Rose stood up for herself, but that didn't take away the pain of the bully's remarks.
I was almost thirteen when I became the focus of that unwelcome attention. It was very painful at the time, but from that hurt came a determination to lose weight, make the most of myself and feel better inside.
I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. Eight years later I was crowned Miss Northern Ireland. I had become the focus of attention again but this time for a very different reason. There followed a number of years where I juggled a career in banking with a part time career in modelling. Then in 1983 I won the title Miss Great Britain. My life changed dramatically overnight. I had opportunities of travel and experiences of meeting people that I would normally only read about or see on film. But I also saw how other people's perception of me changed. I felt the same person inside, but others didn't see me like that. It was a time when I found out who really cared for me as a person and who just wanted to share the limelight. The genuine friends are still around today.
Next month I will be fifty years old and people still ask "Do you not miss those days?" and "Do you not hate getting old?" I can truthfully say that I have never been happier than now. Mind you I could do without the wrinkles but people crave fame only to find it a very lonely place. For me contentment comes from inside and is shared with loved ones. I have two daughters, one on the verge of adulthood. They are entering a much more advanced and sophisticated era than my time but underneath the same hurts and insecurities are as real today as when I walked down that path at school to the mobile classroom.
How I got from a small village in Tipperary to Miss Great Britain is another story...
The story continues...
Below are two video clips of Rose. In the first she receives her crown as Miss Great Britain in 1983. The second is BBC Newsline NI footage of Rose as Miss GB, at the launch of Northern Ireland Railways Sealink service, which took place in York St Station in Belfast.
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