Clonmel’s Robyn Barlow wants to win Miss Ireland 2018 and start a nationwide #yourlifematters suicide awareness campaign

Dylan White

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Dylan White

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dylan.white@iconicnews.ie

Clonmel’s Robyn Barlow plans to launch a nationwide #yourlifematters campaign if she is crowned Miss Ireland 2018 in Dublin this weekend.

21-year-old Robyn was catapulted into the public eye after winning Miss Tipperary 2018, taking it in her stride and following in the footsteps of previous winners of the beauty with a purpose pageant.

“A lot of responsibility comes with being Miss Tipperary and being part of the Miss Ireland competition. You become a role model, young girls look up to you and I hope to do these girls justice and show the holistic image of Miss Tipperary - incorporating physical, social and emotional well-being into everyday life; balancing college life with work; and giving time to a cause I find truly worthy,” the daughter of Alan and Anne Marie Barlow from Knocklofty tells Waterford Live

Robyn is “honoured” to wear the Tipperary tiara and represent the Premier County at the Miss Ireland 2018 final, which takes place at The Helix in Dublin this Sunday (September 16). She is using her status to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and to raise awareness about the importance of looking after our mental health.

“My platform is suicide awareness and it is something I am very passionate about. I understood that the topic of suicide is a sensitive topic and I wanted to learn more about how to broach the subject. So, I took it upon myself to complete the intensive two-day ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) run by the HSE. This taught me to recognise when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that will support their immediate safety. ASIST helped me to become more willing, ready and able to intervene with someone at risk of suicide.

“I approached the team at C-SAW (Clonmel Suicide Awareness Workers) and asked could I volunteer my time and efforts to their worthy cause. Their vision is to help reduce the number of suicides in Tipperary and the surrounding areas by raising awareness and education in the community, providing support to those in need and by offering emotional and practical support to those bereaved by suicide.

“C-SAW hold a free coffee morning every Wednesday morning for people to come in, have a chat, have a cup of tea and a scone, and share their problems in a safe space. As the seanfhocail goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. I tried my hand at making a carrot cake and called in to meet the team. We discussed reasons why the charity was set up, who is involved and how they educate the community in safe and sensitive ways. Having met with the team, I am delighted to work alongside them this year both as Miss Tipperary but also as a community member hoping to be a part of reducing the suicide rates in South Tipperary and surrounding areas.

“I hosted a coffee morning in the local Place4U and brought the left over treats to Cuan Saor, a local refuge centre which provides short term crisis accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence. As a community, we raised over €750 for C-SAW and I can honestly say it was a very proud moment in my life. Money aside, I hope that the 60 odd people who attended my coffee morning now know more about C-SAW and understand the services it provides, completely free of charge as a result of the community’s help and donations. I like to think that if I even helped one person from that day, it’s one more person than if I did nothing,” Robyn says.

Robyn will kick-start a nationwide campaign using the hashtag #yourlifematters and using the skills acquired through the ASIST training if she wins Miss Ireland 2018. “I would visit schools in Ireland and actively, one school at a time, reduce the stigma surrounding the topic of suicide, promote speaking openly about emotions and show that Miss Ireland is about a whole lot more than a beautiful face. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, and what’s on the inside can be well and truly powerful,” a determined Robyn continues.

Rockwell College graduate Robyn, who is in third year at Mary Immaculate College studying Education and Psychology, is having a “blast” getting to know the other finalists. She is thrilled that Niamh Myles and Ciara Danagher have made the final, supporting them at a wildcard selection night at Number Twenty Two nightclub in Dublin last month. “I had a great day at a photoshoot with some of the other finalists for the competition’s sponsors and we even bonded afterwards over a cheeky Nandos.

“The Tipperary hurling team may not have been in a final this year but we sure weren’t going to let our county down from the pageantry aspect,” Robyn smiles.

Robyn overcame a RNR Fits Sports Challenge in Dublin recently and is also in the running to be crowned Miss Sport 2018. She praises her family, friends and mentor Esme Mansergh-Wallace for their support throughout the competition. “A quote that springs to mind while thinking about the support is, ‘life can be uncertain, work can be unpredictable, but by having good people around you, support is guaranteed’,” Robyn adds.

Waterford Live is the home for coverage of the South East's Miss Ireland 2018 finalists