A dedication to the local show society, a passion for bringing mental health into the spotlight and empowering young women are just some of the driving forces behind this year’s 2018 The Land Sydney Royal Showgirl.
Wauchope’s Nikki Gibbs has been sashed this year’s winner, with Quirindi Showgirl Pollyanna Easey coming in second and Forbes Showgirl Grace Allen third.
Nikki is a senior veterinary nurse at Timbertown Veterinary Hospital and the fourth generation member of her family to be involved in her local show society.
She was exhilarated by the win.
“I am extremely humbled to be completely honest, I really wasn’t expecting this at all,” she said.
“I just saw myself as a girl from Wauchope who was fortunate enough to get through to Sydney, so I was just taking on that experience, so the next 12 months are going to be a whirlwind.
“The week has been incredible.”
She said the professional development and mentoring aspects of the week at the Sydney Royal Show had “resonated deeply” with her, and the connections made were “second-to-none”.
It was all skills and learning she could take home to help in her role as mentor for young women in her region, and especially within the field of veterinary nursing where she often saw the impact of isolation and the flow on effects to people’s mental health.
Nikki said since becoming part of the showgirl competition it has highlighted the lack of mental health services available for those in need in her community, and she is now determined to start working in that field and move into counselling services.
While that will mean a return to studying, it’s a challenge she’s willing to take on.
“For me it’s incredibly important for young women to empower them and give them a voice,” Nikki said.
“Our show society has done 52 years of consecutive showgirl competitions and I’m deeply connected to that.
“I’m the fourth generation of my family to be involved in our show society, I’m extremely involved and now being Showgirl it’s another opportunity to bring that home.”
She said her fellow showgirls this year were “incredible women”.
“Maisie’s (2017 Showgirl Maisie Morrow) shoes are big ones to fill, she’s an incredible woman and an incredible ambassador.”
Nikki’s advice for all those girls thinking about joining the Showgirl competition was to just “give it a go”.
“Be completely open-minded to all experiences open to you, we all got thrown out of your comfort zones this week, but we met so many amazing people.
“It’s going to be the best thing you do, don’t focus on the little things take in the whole aspect of it, we are trying to beat the misconceptions of Showgirls too, a lot of people still think it’s a beauty pageant and only based on pretty women but it’s not.”
Nikki has been involved with her local show society since she was 11, but her community involvement goes deeper than that and includes participating in two major fundraising events, which have raised more than $20,000 for fire and drought relief causes.
She has been on her local Wauchope show board for two years, with a family history goes much further back in show involvement – and it’s a history she’s incredibly proud of.
Her great grandfather was the ring master and her great grandmother was the president of the Ladies Auxiliary Hall.
Her Nan is now the vice president of the Ladies Auxiliary and her Pop runs the campdraft.
Her mum is stepping up into the ringmaster position.
The Gibbs family have a long association in the Wauchope area with her grandparents originally running a dairy farm and then becoming local butchers.
Both her mum and her grandparents are now hobby farmers with cattle and horses.
Runner-up from Zone 4 was Quirindi Showgirl Pollyanna Easey.
Pollyanna is a physiotherapy student at the University of Newcastle as well as being an accomplished horse rider who participates in her local pony club.
She often volunteers with her local show as a steward for the Showgirls and the Young Farmer Challenge.
Pollyanna said she didn’t expect to come in the top three.
“The group of girls were so competitive, and so diverse, I didn’t expect this,” she said.
One of her highlights from the week has been the introduction to the mentor program.
“All of the mentors are incredibly powerful and successful women in their own areas.”
Third place went to Zone Six finalist, Forbes Showgirl Grace Allen.
A registered nurse at Orange Health Services, Grace runs the social media for the Forbes Evening Country Women’s Association branch.
She also gives haircuts to the residents at Forbes Mater Aged Care and supports her local show society.
“I’m very excited I can’t believe it, it’s a lovely group of girls, really excited for what comes next,” Grace said.