Randox Potato Festival will celebrate the Mighty Spud at the Giant’s Causeway
Randox Potato Festival will celebrate the Mighty Spud at the Giant’s Causeway
Northern Ireland’s favourite potato-themed festival is back, bigger and better than ever, on Saturday 5th October 2019, boosted once more by the continued partnership with headline sponsor Randox.
Set against the backdrop of the world-famous Giant’s Causeway, the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival is a heady mix of family fun, a celebration of world-renowned potato breeder John Clarke, and a chance to sample the delights of the agri-food industry which thrives in the Causeway Coast & Glens.
Now in its sixth year, the line-up for the free event, which runs from 10am – 5pm in the grounds of the Causeway Hotel, boasts a packed programme of activities and attractions for all ages, including the Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market and Food NI Cookery Theatre.
Wendy Gallagher, Causeway Coast Foodie Tours and Festival Committee Secretary, said;
“We’re delighted to welcome back the ever-popular Food NI Cookery Theatre to the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival, which will feature a selection of talented homegrown chefs including Trudy Brolly of Ocho Tapas Restaurant in Portrush, and Niall McGinn of Dundarave Estate in Bushmills.
“The Potato Festival will also play host to the Naturally North Coast and Glens Artisan Market, with a popular collection of award-winning local artisan food, drink, and hand-made arts and crafts.
“And for potato enthusiasts there will be a series of specialist talks on a range of topics including ‘How to breed your own potatoes’ and an exhibition of all John Clarke’s varieties.”
Joining the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival is a live radio show from Q Radio, which is adding its Broadcast Bus to the eclectic mix of activities on offer, including bouncy castles, a children’s animal farm, The Mighty Spud, and Cutting Edge Helicopters, who will be back in the air again offering spectacular helicopter sightseeing flights (fee applies).*
On the eve of Festival Day a ticketed ‘Super Spud Tour’ to celebrate the area’s unique potato breeding and growing heritage will be held along the beautiful Causeway Coastal Route, and will include a potato producer tour, themed lunch and an opportunity to enjoy a delicious cocktail featuring Ireland’s first potato-distilled vodka.
And headline sponsor Randox will be inviting visitors to the event to step onboard its Mobile Health Clinic, a bespoke Mercedes Benz vehicle which has taken the company’s revolutionary ‘health MOTs’ on the road.
Randox Founder and Managing Director, Dr. Peter FitzGerald, said;
“The sponsorship of the Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival means a great deal to Randox and we are delighted to be able to bring our Mobile Health Clinic to an event which is so well-known in the area, attracts an impressive number of visitors, from both near and far, and has such a dedicated and enthusiastic committee.
“Just like the festival committee, we at Randox are dedicated to supporting local quality produce, evidenced in our production of meats, jams, chutneys and apple juice straight from Dundarave Estate in Bushmills and CherryValley Estate in Antrim.
“The food and hospitality industry in Northern Ireland is among the best in the world and we are pleased to help showcase award-winning local producers on a national platform. The local community has played a significant role in the successes of Randox over the past number of years and we believe it is important to give the same support and encouragement back wherever we can.”
The Randox Northern Ireland Potato Festival will take place in the front car park of the Causeway Hotel at the Giant’s Causeway, but in the event of inclement weather, will proceed at an alternative location in the hotel grounds.
Festival Committee Chairman Michael McKillop, Glens of Antrim Potatoes Ltd, said;
“This year the committee has worked tirelessly to bring a bigger and better potato festival to the North Antrim coast on the site of the Giant’s Causeway. We have more fun-filled events planned with loads of arts and crafts on site and fantastic local chefs doing cookery demos. Along with a free open day to the Causeway Centre, it will be a great family day out.”
As well as Randox as the main sponsor, the festival has benefited from financial help from The National Trust, Glens of Antrim Potatoes, NI Regional Food Programme (DAERA), Jamison Potatoes, McCurdy Potatoes, Wilsons Country, Manor Fresh, Active Packaging, First Trust Bank and Food NI.
Mr McKillop continued;
“I would like to extend my thanks to the National Trust for their continued support. Every year the National Trust is a key partner and sponsor for the Potato Festival, not only opening up the Giant’s Causeway site and providing the perfect location but giving their staff to co-ordinate the activities on the day. They also coincide the festival with their free Community Open Day welcoming everyone to enjoy their Visitor Experience and award-winning guided tours for free, providing a great opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland’s heritage to local and international visitors while celebrating the legacy of John Clarke.”
*£10 raffle tickets to win a helicopter flight for 3 people, worth £270, can be purchased by contacting the Festival Committee, with the raffle being drawn on Festival Day itself.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Randox PR team by emailing email@example.com
To book a place on the ‘Super Spud Tour’ on Friday 4th October, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to know more about Randox?
Contact us or visit our homepage to view more.
Our Randox Products and Services
Putting exports under the microscope at NI Chamber Forum
The Senior Manager for Government Affairs and Strategic Outreach at Randox, Colonel Mark Campbell CBE will discuss the company’s international success at NI Chamber’s next Exporter Forum on 25 September.
Supported by Danske Bank, the initiative provides a platform for Northern Ireland’s most successful exporters to share their inspirational journeys in order to encourage others to grow export activity within their own business.
With offices and distribution in over 145 countries, Randox is one of the region’s most successful exporters and a world leader in the healthcare industry. At the event, Mark will take delegates through the company’s export story, outlining how the business has grown in international markets. Attendees will also be offered an exclusive tour of Randox’s new Science Park.
Encouraging companies with export aspirations to attend, Jonathan Elder, Corporate Banking Manager at Danske Bank, said:
“Danske Bank is proud to support the Export First Exporter forum at the brand new Randox Science Park. Randox has for many years been one of Northern Ireland’s most successful export businesses and so the chance to learn from the company’s experience in international markets will, I’m sure, be invaluable for those who attend the event. If we want Northern Ireland’s economy to grow, particularly post-Brexit, it will be essential that more of our small and medium sized businesses follow the example of market leaders like Randox and take the opportunities on offer to them to sell outside of Northern Ireland.”
Mark Campbell, Senior Manager at Randox Laboratories, added;
“From the very outset Randox has been focussed on export markets – aiming to improve diagnostics, and healthcare, on a global basis. After some 37 years, Randox now export to 145 countries and around 95% of our product is exported.
“Achieving success in export markets can be challenging but the rewards are potentially significant – both in the potential for growth and in improving overall economic wellbeing.
“With this focus on exports in mind, we are very much looking forward to the NI Chamber Export First Exporter Forum. This Forum will provide a valuable opportunity to explore with other Northern Ireland companies export strategies, and how to optimise the potential for company and wider economic growth from overseas markets.”
To register for this event, which takes place on 25 September 2019, between 9.30-11.30am at Randox Laboratories, Antrim visit www.northernirelandchamber.com/events
Want to know more about Randox?
Contact us or visit our homepage to view more.
Our Randox Products and Services
As part of a wider government initiative to tackle Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), Northern Ireland farmers are being given the opportunity to attend a range of training events aimed at educating them more about potential risks to their businesses.
The new training course titled ‘Responsible Use of Antibiotics in the Dairy Herd’ will be delivered by Animal Health & Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI), as part of Farm Family Key Skills (FFKS), an initiative within the Farm Business Improvement Scheme (FBIS). The training will equip farmers on how to reduce and optimise their use of antibiotics. It will also give key tips on the best use of antibiotics and how to avoid the risk of residues by following suitable withdrawal guidelines.
Ulster Farmers Union president, Ivor Ferguson said; “As a farming industry, we are committed to playing our part in reducing antibiotic usage and resistance. Significant progress has already been made in the pig and poultry sectors, which have seen their usage fall by over 50% and 80% respectively.”
The initiative is also supported by Dairy UK and many dairy companies to complement the MilkSure program ensuring that Northern Ireland milk is produced to the highest standards.
Randox Food Diagnostics are continuously investing in innovative multiplexing screening technology to enable the agriculture and food industries to implement effective drug residue screening. Our patented Biochip Array Technology (BAT) can detect multiple toxins, residues & contaminants (up to 44) from a single sample. The Infiniplex Array for milk ensures dairy processors are compliant with 98% of EU regulations for antibiotics and can also detect anti- parasitic, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic drug residues from a single neat sample of milk!
Our extensive test menu is also available across a range of matrices including Meat and Feed. For more information on the screening arrays available, contact email@example.com to find out how Randox Food can help protect your industry.
From cybersecurity and immersive technologies to restoration Shakespeare, new diagnostic tools and aerospace, Northern Ireland is home to world class research and innovation.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is celebrating excellence in Northern Ireland by showcasing some of the leading work taking place in the country ahead of an engagement event in the Ormeau Baths on the evening of Tuesday 29th January 2019.
Ahead of the event, UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport paid a visit to the Randox Science Park in Antrim, to learn more about the innovative diagnostic technologies we develop for hospitals, clinical, research and molecular labs, food testing, forensic toxicology, veterinary labs and life sciences.
UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said:
“Research and innovation excellence in Northern Ireland plays an important role in the UK’s success on the world stage. Its universities, innovation networks and leading businesses are an integral part of the UK’s research landscape. With UKRI support, they are pushing boundaries in areas such as healthcare, digital technologies and aerospace.”
The visit by Sir Walport follows our announcement in December 2018 that UKRI had awarded Randox a grant of £700,000 as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to further develop our state-of-the-art ‘freeze-drying’ technology. This enables the components of vital diagnostic kits to be manufactured, stored and transported more effectively, producing better and speedier diagnoses.
Earlier in the year we also announced a £50 million investment in three new research and development Centres of Excellence for clinical diagnostics.
The UKRI reception at Ormeau Baths, which is now home to a Digital Catapult Centre, supporting the innovation community in the heart of Belfast, will celebrate Randox research projects such as the Centres of Excellence, as well as those of other companies in Northern Ireland, including a £13 million collaboration to boost the flourishing creative sector, part of the £80m UK-wide Creative Cluster programme. Current UKRI investment in Northern Ireland includes more than £78 million invested in active research projects.
The event celebrates the diverse research and innovation excellence in Northern Ireland and is an opportunity to discuss future ambitions.
It will be hosted by Professor Walport, with speakers including David Sterling, Head of the Civil Service of Northern Ireland; Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President of Ulster University; and Professor Máire O’Neill, Institute of Electronics, Communications & Information Technology at Queen’s University Belfast, and follows Sir Mark Walport’s visit to Randox Laboratories and also Bombardier, the world’s leading manufacturer of both planes and trains.
We were delighted to host Sir Mark Walport at the Randox Science Park and are looking forward to celebrating the success of Northern Ireland research and development at the UK Research and Innovation event this evening.
For further information please contact Randox PR by phoning 028 9442 2413 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The main depression charity for Northern Ireland, AWARE has an established network of 24 support groups in rural and urban areas across the country, and also delivers mental health and well-being programmes into communities, schools, colleges, universities and workplaces. Mind Your Mood is an initiative designed and managed by students at Ulster University to help break down the stigma of mental health and encourage students to access support.
Did you know that the prevalence of mental health conditions in Northern Ireland is up to 25% higher than in England, with anxiety and depression being the most common mental disorders? We’re proud therefore to be supporting both AWARE and Mind Your Mood with a range of fundraising initiatives this year, including now the Randox Christmas Raffle 2018, at which, we are delighted to announce, we raised more than £2500 – with the official total still to be counted!
Congratulations to all our prize winners from this year’s Christmas Raffle, and in particular to the lucky winners of our most coveted prizes – a 55″ Ultra HD 4K Sony Bravia TV and an extra day of annual leave!
Congratulations to Emma Forsythe and Jayne Russell on receiving these prizes.
Thanks again everyone for all your support with the 2018 Randox Christmas Raffle – to our dedicated Internal Comms team who organised the event, to Chloe Young from Mind Your Mood for joining us and helping us see where our money would be going, and of course to everyone who bought a ticket!
Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you again in 2019.
To find out more about charity fundraising at Randox, please email email@example.com
The Ireland-U.S. Council in America have this week presented the founder of healthcare diagnostics company Randox Laboratories with an award marking significant achievement in building relations between Northern Ireland and the United States of America.
Presented to Dr Peter FitzGerald at the 56th Annual Dinner of the Ireland-U.S. Council yesterday evening, the accolade, named the Cúchulainn award, recognizes the efforts of individuals who go above and beyond to support the objectives of the Ireland-U.S. Council – to improve the business bonds and commercial connections between Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States.
Joining an exclusive line-up of some of the most prominent business figures in both Ireland and the United States recognized by the Ireland-U.S. Council, including CEO of International Airlines Group William Walsh, Dr FitzGerald was presented with the prestigious award at The Metropolitan Club in New York City.
Dr. Peter FitzGerald, Founder and Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, commented;
“I am most honoured to be here this evening to accept the Cúchulainn award from the Ireland-U.S. Council in recognition of the work undertaken by Randox in the United States since the early 1980s when we began to export our diagnostic healthcare products. The United States remains one of Randox’s most important markets, in which we are growing at pace thanks to the ongoing development of innovative new products in not only the healthcare sector, but also the veterinary, research, toxicology and food safety industries.”
The Ireland-U.S. Council was founded in 1962 by a group of American and Irish business leaders as a measure to build an established structure which would encourage closer economic relations, and was initially created to assist in making preparations for the first-ever State Visit of a sitting U.S. President to Ireland by President John F. Kennedy from June 26 – 29 in 1963.
David O’Sullivan, Executive Director of the Ireland–U.S. Council, added;
“Ever since the State Visit to Ireland by President John F. Kennedy, the Ireland-U.S. Council has been engaged in efforts to achieve our transatlantic mission. Dr FitzGerald of Randox Laboratories truly embodies the essence of this mission by aligning his business in Ireland closely with businesses in the US, to maximise the positive outcomes for both parties. We are delighted to present him this evening with the Cúchulainn award – for the significant contributions he has made to the development of closer economic, business and commercial ties between our two nations.”
For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
As a global company with its roots firmly planted in Northern Ireland’s glorious countryside, we’re extremely proud of the beautiful scenery that surrounds our County Antrim headquarters.
With an abundance of flora, fauna and natural wildlife living on the shores of Lough Neagh – where we have our offices – we know the importance of looking after the environment. After all, at Randox HQ we are lucky enough to admire the view from our office windows every day.
That’s why we have a dedicated Environmental Management team at Randox – whose role it is to prevent pollution, reduce waste, recycle consistently, and in general, to control and reduce the risks to air, land and water.
In this month’s #WeAreRandox interview, we chat to Charles McGonagle, Randox Environmental Manager, about a typical day in his job, the importance of respecting your local environment, and what it is that makes his career so worthwhile.
Here’s Charles’ story.
We’re very lucky that at Randox we get to work in such a beautiful part of the Northern Irish countryside. Our headquarters are located just outside Crumlin, near the International Airport, and sit just on the edge of Lough Neagh, the biggest lake in UK and Ireland.
It was recently named one of the Top 100 global sustainable destinations – an initiative which aims to recognise tourism destinations that have worked hard to make a difference and take sustainability seriously. And that’s certainly what we do here at Randox.
We take our environmental responsibility very seriously, not only because of our location, but also because we owe much of our 35 years of success to the support from the local community in which Randox was raised – so we like to give back when we can.
Each year our team plant a new area of trees around Lough Neagh, to make sure the area continues to develop and flourish. In addition to its rich collection of trees, badgers, squirrels, insects and mushrooms, there are also 100,000 birds who flock to Lough Neagh during the winter, coming from places as far away as Canada, Iceland and Russia, and we’re passionate about maintaining this sort of wildlife diversity in the Lough.
Everyone at Randox has their role to play in achieving this aim – not just the Environmental team. A typical day for me would involve a site visit to a particular area of the company, to monitor its activity and environmental performance, and identify areas for improvement, so every day I’m in a different area, learning something new and interesting about the company. With such diversity in the activities and processes the environmental team are involved in, everyone across the company gets the opportunity to review and evaluate their impact on the environment.
Whether a scientist or marketer, manufacturing operative or salesperson, we all make an effort to reduce our waste where we can – for example by turning off our computers, heating and lighting when not in use, and maintaining our equipment properly so we maximise their efficiency. In our attempts to reduce our atmosphere emissions and energy use, every little helps!
Our engineering and manufacturing team, in particular, take environmental factors into consideration daily – whether the material they have chosen is environmentally friendly, if their processes are efficient and if waste material can be recycled.
And our training department has also recently moved onto a paperless data management system to reduce our impact on the environment even more.
I think that’s one of the most rewarding things about my job – seeing people get involved and engaged in ways in which we can improve our environmental friendliness. As someone who is passionate about protecting and improving the environment – I studied Environmental Management at university and then worked with the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute – I feel very lucky to work in a company which places such importance on looking after the environment and reducing its carbon footprint.
Randox are constantly trying to find more ways to reduce environmental impact, contribute to the reduction of global CO2 emissions, and make sure that this area of outstanding natural beauty in County Antrim is preserved for many generations to come.
For further information on what we do at Randox to protect the local environment, please contact the Randox PR Team: phone 028 9442 2413 or email email@example.com
Hot off the heels of its first ever Randox Health Grand National, global healthcare company Randox returned this weekend to Bushmills to again host its International Polo Tournament. Renowned polo players from across the world joined the founder of the Co Antrim-based firm, Dr Peter FitzGerald, to play in the coastal town.
Following a successful event last year, which was the first of its kind held in Northern Ireland, the 2017 Randox Polo hosted almost 450 guests, including Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mrs. Joan Christie OBE, and Mayor of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Joan Baird, who delivered the match ball of the first polo game. Former Miss Northern Ireland and fitness blogger Tiffany Brien, added a touch of glamour to the event.
On display was the company’s latest venture – the Randox Health Mobile Clinic. The unveiling of the bespoke Mercedez-Benz vehicle marks a departure from traditional models of healthcare provision, as the company’s advanced health screening programmes are now available to people anywhere in the country, using its travelling team of trained scientists and phlebotomists.
It was a victory for the Randox team in their first game of the tournament, as they went head-to-head with Scotland, but it was the Republic of Ireland team who emerged winners of the International Polo Tournament when they scored more goals than Team Randox in the final match of the day.
Randox, a recognised supporter of the arts, launched the weekend with a performance from Camerata Ireland Cameratino, an ensemble composed of acclaimed Irish flautist Eimear McGeown, and a String Trio including Violinist Sarah Sew, Violist Nathan Sherman and Celloist Gerald Peregrine, in Dundarave Estate.
The musical element continued on Saturday with a Beating of the Retreat by the Royal Irish Regimental Band, including the highly popular “Highland Cathedral,” and a unique version of “Run” by Snow Patrol.
Local Bushmills residents weren’t put off by the wet conditions, and turned out to watch both the polo tournament, and the fireworks display which rounded off the event.
Randox Founder and Managing Director, Dr. Peter FitzGerald, a keen horseman who played in the polo tournament, commented;
“Given that our inaugural tournament in 2016 received such positive feedback from the Bushmills community, we are delighted to have been able to once again bring the event to the beautiful North Coast and its residents, and to bring the Randox Health message to our Polo guests. By prioritising your health and wellbeing you can make the most of life’s special moments and occasions – like this great polo tournament.
“We’re very lucky that the resilient spirits of the local Bushmills community weren’t dampened by the rain, and everyone was able to enjoy a wonderful afternoon together on the beautiful north coast.”
For more information about the Randox Polo Tournament in Bushmills contact the Randox PR team: Call 028 9442 2413 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
With 111 years of events under its belt, the Antrim Agricultural Show is one of the longest running and most highly regarded of Northern Ireland’s regional agricultural shows.
Now in its 112th year, and with the backing of a new title sponsor in the form of Antrim-headquartered Randox Laboratories, the show has drawn in its largest crowd to date, with thousands of guests turning up for the Randox Antrim Show 2017, held in Shane’s Castle on Saturday 22nd July.
A special guest to this year’s event was Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, visiting the Randox Antrim Show to show his support for the local farming community. During his visit to the popular agricultural show, Mr. Gove stopped by the Randox marquee to chat to Managing Director Dr. Peter FitzGerald, and Senior Manager Mark Campbell, about the company’s patented Biochip Array Technology.
With applications in human health, animal health, and food safety, the Biochip has revolutionised the diagnostics industry because it allows multiple tests to be carried out from a single sample on a single testing platform. Of particular interest to the Secretary of State and to the guests in attendance at this year’s Randox Antrim Show, was the Mycotoxin Biochip, capable of detecting all ten of the world’s most prevalent toxins in animal feed.
Stuart Penrose, Global Marketing Manager for the Randox Biochip, commented;
“Not only does the Randox Antrim Show offer us the opportunity to support the local community in which Randox has grown and flourished over the years, but through this partnership we can also offer that very same community the very latest in diagnostic technology to keep their livestock safe, happy, and importantly, healthy. What your animal eats plays a huge role in their health so with Randox Food Diagnostics you can rest assured that what you are giving your livestock is of the highest quality.”
Also on offer in the Randox marquee at the Randox Antrim Show was a free health analysis, conducted by the Randox Health team. Guests to the tent had the opportunity to find out their true body age – determined by weight, height, blood pressure, fat distribution and muscle distribution, among other measurements taken by a member of the team from Randox Health, the world’s most comprehensive and personalised health screening programme.
Designed to determine the status of your current health, but also to map out your future health, Randox Health constantly works to keep your body healthy. Unlike any other health care, Randox Health doesn’t wait until you are sick to make you better. Hundreds of guests at the Randox Antrim Show queued up in their droves to find out more, and so can you. Simply click here.
For more information about the Randox Antrim Show, please contact Randox PR: email email@example.com or phone 028 9442 2413.
One of the best things about our We Are Randox series of staff stories is that we get to find out all sorts of interesting things about our colleagues. We love getting to hear about what they get up to outside of work, to find out what really makes them tick and to be able to celebrate their special talents and skills!
So you’ll not be surprised to hear that we were really excited to find out that our Finance Placement Student, Sarah Cunningham, was recently in the Miss Northern Ireland competition 2017, after having won her heat in Cookstown.
We sat down with Sarah to find out a bit more about what really goes on behind the scenes of Miss Northern Ireland, and about how the competition helped her develop her self-confidence.
Here’s Sarah’s story.
I really stumbled upon the Miss Northern Ireland competition by chance, as I was looking for a new challenge and my friend simply said “Why not give that a shot?”
I didn’t necessarily know what I was getting myself into other than that it looked quite fun and my friends were really supportive so I just wanted to give it a chance and see how it went.
So I actually entered for the first time last year, and although I’m from Ballyclare I entered a heat in Enniskillen because I was advised to enter a heat in a small area where there’s fewer applicants. Then you have more of a chance of progressing!
So I went to the heats in Enniskillen and what I was most surprised to find is that the Miss Northern Ireland pageant is so heavily focused on your personality. Every girl that enters is really glamorous, with beautiful hair, makeup and clothes, so everyone is on a level pegging in that regard. But they want more than just a girl who’s into her looks. What really sets you apart is making sure to get your personality across.
When last year’s competition ended I knew that I wasn’t ready for the excitement of the experience to be over just yet, so I chose to do it again in 2017.
In my heat in Cookstown this year the judging panel was made up of a mix of sponsors including Donnelly Group and Insanity Tan, and then when I moved up to the finals, last year’s Miss Northern Ireland was also on the judging panel.
In the final there’s 2 winners from each heat. So from Cookstown there was myself – I was Miss Cookstown – and there was also Miss Sense (a nightclub in Cookstown which sponsored the other winner and also hosted our heat). There were 12 heats in total so there were 24 girls in the final, held in the Europa Hotel in Belfast.
Between the time of the heats and the final itself there were a few promo opportunities which we got the opportunity to attend, like photo shoots and also a boot camp.
The boot camp was really intense – one day was just a really full-on session of training on what was expected of us, so from 9-5 we sat listening to and absorbing a lot of information – quite a lot of which was new to so many of us.
The final, which was in May of this year, began on a Saturday morning, even though the event wasn’t until the Monday night! We stayed in the Europa Hotel during that time and had 10-12 hours of rehearsals each day leading up to the event.
That’s what I like to get across when I’m telling people about this experience. It’s not just standing up there and looking pretty. It’s really intense and the event organisers like to use the rehearsal time to see who puts the hard work in and who really wants it the most. It’s easy to identify those who can’t really be bothered, and those who want it so much that they’re pushing on in spite of their sheer exhaustion. At the finals the event starts off with a big opening dance so much of our rehearsal time was spent learning and perfecting that routine.
On the Monday afternoon you also have an interview with 12 different judges and I can genuinely say it was the most daunting thing I have ever experienced! They really do grill you! I think I can say with confidence that this is the stage when the judges actually make their decision – even before the event itself – because it’s when they really get to know you properly and find out lots about you.
I think that’s actually a good thing because by the time the event comes around that night then you’re not really worried or stressed anymore. You know that the judges have already made their decision and the evening won’t change that, so you might as well relax and have a really fun and enjoyable night.
I suppose they might have their top three in mind and then whoever shines on the night will be their eventual winner but it certainly does lift a certain amount of the pressure knowing that the interview – the scariest part – is over.
After the dance routine there’s a number of different rounds to display different aspects of the competition. There’s a runway section for example, a fashion show and then we put on some really beautiful ballgowns.
Following that then the presenters introduce each individual to the audience based on the answers you gave during your interview earlier on in the day. This year it was Q Radio and Zoe Salmon who presented on the night of the final. When introducing me for example they would say; “This is Sarah Cunningham. She studies Business Studies and is currently on a placement with Randox Laboratories.”
After that the judges then cut down the entries to their Top 10, and each girl within the Top 10 has to fit in to a particular category. So for example they’ll choose “Miss Sport,” or “Miss Talent” or “Miss Social Media.” The talent category is optional – I think about 10 out of the 24 girls this year chose to perform a particular talent of theirs. Those 10 girls performed for the judges on the Sunday morning and the winner performed at the final on the Monday night.
I got “Miss Promotional Model.” It sounds silly but it basically means that based on my personality they saw that I would be good at going out and chatting to people so I must come across as quite persuasive. I might make a good salesperson!
Then at this stage there’s more questions for the girls who make it in to the Top 10 – focused on what you would do if you won at the Miss World finals, which are being held in China later on this year. They asked me a lot about what I would bring to China and how I would showcase Northern Ireland to the rest of the world.
It was Miss Anchor (a bar in Portstewart) who won this year’s Miss Northern Ireland – a girl called Anna Henry who has just finished graduated with an engineering degree and is currently on a gap year before she starts work.
Her new role as Miss Northern Ireland 2017 involves a lot of appearances because many of the well-known businesses organisations in Northern Ireland like having her involved in their events throughout the year. At the end of this year she will go to China for an entire month for Miss World, and when she returns, the process to find Miss Northern Ireland 2018 will begin. Anna will sit on the judging panel for the 2018 heats, which will go on for about 8 weeks.
I think I have one more go at Miss Northern Ireland in me, but I’m going to wait one or two years before I have another go. I have until I’m 24 to enter, so I think I’ll take a few years out to focus on my work and university degree.
I think beauty pageants sometimes get a bad rep for being “a bad example” for younger girls but I totally disagree with that premise. All of us who were involved in Miss Northern Ireland 2017 are now such good friends and we got on so well during the whole process. We really were like one big family and if anybody was to make a negative or demeaning comment about somebody the rest of us would stand up and put a stop to it. That’s not what we were there for – we were there to support each other and we all understood that only one person would ultimately win so we might as well enjoy it and have a good laugh together as friends.
I made life-long friendships and I really enjoyed the whole networking aspect of the event – meeting new people and making new contacts. I’ve also learnt that I really enjoy modelling and although I won’t be pursuing it full-time because I’m studying Business Studies, I think it will be a really fun hobby for me and I’ll definitely do some jobs here and there if they come up.
And the whole process has really helped me develop my self-confidence. A year ago I wouldn’t even have been able to give this interview because I was so timid and shy but the experience has really brought me out of my shell.
I was involved in a STEM challenge event with Randox a few weeks ago in which I hosted a Mathematics challenge for students from Victoria College and the Girls’ Model Belfast and I don’t think I would have been able to do it if it weren’t for Miss Northern Ireland. It’s a great experience and I truly believe it helps girls with their self-confidence. I have nothing but admiration for the whole process and I look forward to seeing who will win next year.
For more We Are Randox stories make sure to follow #WeAreRandox on our social media channels.
If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out the Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.