Miss NI finalist Hannah Cairns puts her best foot forward for charity

Hillsborough student teacher Hannah Cairns is proving that beauty has a purpose after raising funds for Banbridge animal charity Paws and People.

Hannah, who has just finished her final year placement at Annahilt Primary School in P1, is a finalist in this year’s prestigious Miss Northern Ireland competition,

The 25-year-old is quite new to the world of pageants, having been encouraged to enter Miss NI after being approached on Instagram, however she is no stranger to the prestigious competition. “I used to go to piano lessons with a former Miss Northern Ireland, Angela Mountstephens,” revealed Hannah, who herself has worked as a singing and piano teacher. “I would be doing scales and see this picture of her as Miss Northern Ireland. It’s something I never felt I would have the confidence to do but during the pandemic I reevaluated what I wanted to do and it made me think ‘what’s the worst that can happen’.”

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Even if she doesn’t win the crown, Hannah has had a fantastic experience and has loved meeting the other finalists in the competition.

“All of the finalists are so lovely and inspirational,” she continued. “They are all lovely girls and I feel so lucky to be part of it.”

When competing to be crowned Miss Northern Ireland, the finalists have to prove they have a heart for charity by raising much needed funds for local organisations,

After adopting her two dogs from Paws and People, Hannah decided to put her best foot forward by running 100km throughout April and donating the money raised to the animal rescue charity.

“In Miss World they have a real focus on beauty with a purpose,” explained Hannah. “A lot of criticism of pageants is that it is all on the surface but Miss World wants us to use our voice to promote charities and services that are close to our hearts.”

During the pandemic Hannah and her family made the decision to adopt a dog and after talking to Paws and People they decided they couldn’t part Brodie and Bonnie, who came from one home. “My sister and I always wanted a dog and we’d talked about it a lot over the years,” explained Hannah. “When the pandemic hit we thought it was the perfect time.

“Brodie and Bonnie are from the same household and they couldn’t be without each other. We went to see them and we just fell in love. They have settled in well and they are part of the family. Everyone loves them and we can’t imagine life without them.”

When Hannah found out that charity fundraising was an important part of the Miss NI contest, she immediately knew she wanted to give something back to the charity that had given her family Brodie and Bonnie,

“Paws and People is one of the smaller animal rescue centres,” Hannah continued. “It is a mother and daughter team and it is completely non-profit. All of the money raised goes into the animals and you can really see how much they love the animals.

“For me and my family the dogs have brought so much joy and I wanted to give back to the charity and help other dogs to find their forever homes.”

Throughout April Hannah ran 100km and set up a Go Fund Me page for people to donate. After hitting her initial target of £150, she has now raised £220 and is hoping the total will be even more by the time the final rolls around.

“I normally would run 7km three times a week so I added some onto that and did a few 10km runs over Easter,” she said.

“There were days when it was completely pouring and I didn’t want to go out but I had to push myself a wee bit. When I was halfway through I wanted to stop but I was so pleased to reach the target I set for myself.”

Hannah has decided to keep going with her fundraising drive and is planning to run another 50km before the final of the Miss NI contest on May 23.

Hannah would like to thank everyone who has supported her and donated to her fundraising effort. “I know times are tough at the minute but even something small can make a world of difference,” Hannah added.

You can still help this worthy cause and help animals to find their forever homes by donating online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/running-100k-in-april-fundraiser.