Waterford woman who survived "terrible illness" will represent the county at Miss Ireland 2018 final

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A new Miss Waterford 2018 has been crowned ahead of the Miss Ireland final in Dublin this week.

Waterford Castle Hotel and Golf Resort’s Jenny Hesse was 'shocked but over the moon' when she won Miss Waterford 2018 at Club Creation in Dungarvan last month, but “due to unforeseen circumstances is unable to continue” in the beauty with a purpose pageant.

“The very stunning Clara Mannion has taken her place. Clara was a very close runner up to Jenny and we are delighted that she will be representing Waterford at the Miss Ireland final at The Helix in Dublin on September 16,” a Miss Waterford 2018 spokesperson says. 

Clara is having an “absolute ball” in the the competition, describing it as an “incredible experience”.

Clara, a musician and concertina teacher, has enjoyed an “amazing month” which included performing with the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland at the Phoenix Park in Dublin for Pope Francis’ recent visit.

She is “delighted and excited” to take over the crown of Miss Waterford 2018. “I’m really looking forward to what’s ahead. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason,” a proud Clara says.

As part of her Miss Waterford journey, Clara will host a charity concert in aid of ACT for Meningitis, a non-profit organisation based in Galway that offers support to everyone affected by meningitis, while also raising awareness of this life changing disease.

“This wonderful charity is very close to my heart as I am a survivor of the terrible illness. I was diagnosed at the age of two and and I count myself very lucky to be here today. Up to 14 days in isolation, up to 16 injections a day and it took 12 months to recover fully. A horror story for my poor parents and for any parent!

“I’m delighted to support ACT for Meningitis and to help spread awareness. Any donation is greatly appreciated as ACT for Meningitis is working to rebuild lives and support anyone affected by meningitis, while also raising awareness of the disease. They are amazing!

"The concert takes place at the Park Hotel Dungarvan on Friday 28th September at 8pm. It will feature Irish traditional music, song and dance and will be a great night of fantastic entertainment not to be missed. Tickets are €10 at the door. I would absolutely love everyone's support and it would be great to see a few familiar faces,” she adds.