Last updated at 7:30 PM on 29th August 2010
Resplendent in tiara and glittering evening dress, her winner’s bouquet clutched to her breast in endearing disbelief, Laura Patterson had the world at her feet as she accepted the coveted Miss Ireland crown last year.
Before her lay a whirlwind year of lucrative modelling assignments in the stilettoed footsteps of previous winners such as television star Pamela Flood, Michelle
Rocca – aka Mrs Van Morrison – newspaper columnist Amanda Brunker and model Andrea Roche.
But for Laura, the reality turned out to be rather less glamorous.
On top of the world: Miss Ireland Laura Patterson is congratulated by her boyfriend after her win
The 5ft 8in beauty, who is represented by Converse Modelling and Assets, was a surprise win last year at the glitzy annual ceremony in Dún Laoghaire’s Royal Marine Hotel.
She said she was stunned to even make the final 10 – and when her name was called as the winner, ‘everything went mad’.
After being presented with the crown and sash, her mother Violet burst into tears of happiness and Laura was surrounded by photographers.
She described her win as ‘amazing’ but insisted she would not allow the title to take her away from Derry.
The Miss Ireland crown comes with sponsorship deals, shoes and jewellery, and she represented Ireland in the Miss World pageant finals in Johannesburg in December.
Dressing down: Beauty queen Laura leaving work wearing a less than glamorous outfit
‘I’m determined to stay in Derry,’ Laura said when she won. ‘I think it’s great
that this year’s Miss Ireland comes from the city. I will be staying here.’
So Derry – and Tesco – remained her homebase throughout her Miss Ireland reign; although she did fulfill the requisite duties, as far away as India and Dubai, she always happily returned home to the North.
Her reign itself was not particularly smooth either; she fell ill and was therefore unable to take part in a charity mini-marathon in Calcutta last February.
The St Valentine’s Day event was intended to raise money for the street children of Calcutta, but her place was taken by Miss Ireland runner-up Tania Zorilla.
At the time, a spokesman for the Miss Ireland pageant played down the unfortunate replacement, saying it was not serious.
In her first official job as Miss Ireland, at a photocall for a mobile phone company, she was driven to tears by a journalist’s question.
‘I had been asked an inappropriate question by a journalist,’ she revealed at the time.
Laura had been dating her boyfriend, Greg Kelly, for six months. ‘She asked me if I’d be better off single but I set her straight. I’m glad to have a boyfriend. He is very supportive.’
Back to reality: Laura is back working at her part-time job
Laura stayed in Derry, but she wasn’t the only one to give the event a miss; only 10 out of 32 Miss Counties showed up at the party in Krystle.
‘Some of the girls had paid for hotel rooms for the night to be there because they had come from as far away as Galway or Antrim, so it was annoying that Laura didn’t go,’ one guest said. ‘It was planned for a while, so everyone had plenty of notice and others managed to book time off work for it.’
The snub by its own participants was just one of many recent trials for the plagued Miss Ireland pageant.
Diva Next Door’s Stephen Saleh announced earlier this year that he would no longer invest in or produce the event, which had been run for two years by Krishna Naidoo and his family. They had taken over running Miss Ireland from Andrea Roche, who set up rival contest Miss Universe Ireland.
When Mr Saleh’s funding disappeared this year, Mr Naidoo insisted there would be no problem staging the 2010 competition – but then sold the rights to Seán Montague and Brendan Scully of BScene modelling agency. They brought Valerie Roe on board to do their PR and set up a new Facebook page, hoping to infuse the competition with new life.
While Miss Ireland – who teaches Bible classes in her spare time – was unwilling to give an interview during the final days of her reign, she nevertheless looked quite happy at work.
A new Miss Ireland will be crowned on September 18 in the D4 Berkeley, which has been taken over by new management.
Laura will be on hand to personally hand over her crown before continuing her work at Tesco as she waits to resume her law and accountancy studies at the Magee College campus of the University of Ulster.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1307222/Check-Miss-Ireland-Laura-world-feet--kept-firmly-Tesco-s-floor.html#ixzz0y3jKotnC