Former Batlow Technology School captain Lilly Kirkby has made it through to the NSW state final of the Miss World contest.
Lilly is hoping to win a place in the national finals in August, and ultimately, land a place at the international crowning ceremony in Sanya, China, in December.
The 20-year-old, who is studying a double degree in history and teaching at Macquarie University in Sydney, said she initially entered the contest, the world’s longest running and biggest beauty pageant, as a way of stepping outside her comfort zone.
“I love modelling and fashion and I love a challenge,” she said.
“The more I looked into what Miss World Australia offered and what it stood for, the more I was interested.”
Miss World has a motto of “beauty with a purpose”, and all entrants choose a cause and help raise money and awareness for their chosen charity. Lilly has chosen Variety, which helps disadvantaged children.
Lilly said she plans to use the Miss World platform to highlight some of the causes she feels passionate about.
“I’d like to make a difference to young disadvantaged children through the help of Variety, be a voice for women and raise awareness of mental health in rural towns,” she said.
“Mental health in both females and males in country towns is an issue that is not spoken enough about, and I wish to help raise awareness through my journey with Miss World Australia.”
Lilly’s decision to enter the Miss World contest came late, but she impressed judges in the first stage of the competition in March.
Contestants were required to tell the judges about themselves and undertake a question and answer section, while also being judged on their presentation in a formal evening gown.
Lilly said she hopes to be a role model for others.
“Being a country girl in a big city, I’d like to empower young women in rural towns to follow their dreams and passions, and to have the strength and not be afraid to reach out when in need of help,” she said.
“It is all about having confidence in yourself and believing that you can achieve great things. If you work hard enough, anything is possible. I know that personally, I have learnt so much from this journey and I know I will continue to learn and challenge myself.
Lilly is the third of seven children to parents John and Sonia Kirkby and grew up on a property outside Batlow (the family moved to Wagga in 2016).
She fondly remembers the freedom of growing up on a farm, including horse-riding, as well as her time at Batlow Technology School.
“The thing I loved most about attending Batlow Technology School was the opportunities that it provided me. Many people think that because it is a small school, we aren’t given the same opportunities as the bigger, urban schools are, but I don’t think this is entirely true,” she said.
“I love sport, athletics and running and we were always given so many opportunities to attend sports carnivals and inter-school competitions.
“In the classroom, my teachers were always able to help you one-on-one and they challenged you to do better. I am quite an introvert but each year at our performance nights, I would get involved and be up on stage playing guitar and doing drama performances, something I know I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do if I was at a bigger school.”
She is in her third year a double degree in Bachelor of Arts majoring in Modern History and a Bachelor of Secondary Education.
“I have a strong passion for history and for helping others,” she said.
“ I am where I am today because my teachers helped and challenged me to do further study, to follow my passions and strive to reach higher.
“I’d like to work in small, rural schools as a history teacher where I hope to inspire adolescents and young adults to aim high in their futures, aspire to do great things and I can share my passion for history.”
She retains close ties to Batlow, and each year returns for the Batlow CiderFest, bringing along some of her city friends.
“It’s always a good time!” she said.
Australia has won the Miss World contest only twice – in 1968 and 1972.
Local residents can help support Lilly’s chosen cause of supporting Variety by donating at https://missworldaustralia2018.everydayhero.com/au/miss-world-australia-2018-raising-money-for-variety.
“A little bit goes a long way and I would appreciate any donations to help me to reach my goal so that Australian children can receive the support they need for better futures,” she said.