2018 is a year Caitlin Hipwell won’t forget in a hurry.
It was the year she entered the Maitland Showgirl and Miss Maitland quest and took out the prestigious title.
That catapulted her into a role at the Maitland Show, accompanied by a purple sash, and then months of engagements as Miss Maitland – which is basically being a youth ambassador for the city.
So as her role draws to a close, and the judging process for the 2019 competition edges closer, what was her year in the sash like?
One word comes to her mind – unforgettable.
It’s been a massive learning experience and I’ve met some very influential people and learnt a lot about Maitland and the society as a whole,”2018 Maitland Showgirl and Miss Maitland Caitlin Hipwell
Ms Hipwell, 20, spent a night sleeping rough at Maitland Gaol and created a Go Fund Me page to raise money for the homeless. She collected $1000 for St Vincent De Paul.
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“It was very cold, we had to sleep on the ground on a piece of cardboard and we didn’t really get any dinner, we only got a cup of soup,” she said.
“It was an eye-opener to experience how the homeless have to live.”
Ms Hipwell inspired students at the Mayor’s Breakfast when she shared her battle with anxiety. Several school principals thanked her for opening up about it.
“I let them know that I suffered from anxiety and it was really hard for me in school and it’s okay to be worried and scared about school. It’s not the be all and end all, there is such a big life ahead for them,” she said.
“I have severe anxiety in general and the bullying at school made it a lot worse. It’s definitely still there but it’s not as bad as it used to be.
“I’ve never had anxiety about performing or speaking to anybody, it’s more about changes in my environment and my life schedule.”
Anzac Day was another opportunity to share her thoughts with the public. She spoke about the role of women in conflicts during the ceremony in Maitland Park.
“Not many people really talk about that so I made sure I spoke about it so they were recognised as well,” she said.
Ms Hipwell encouraged young women between 18 and 24 to enter the competition and relish in the life experience it provided.
You learn so much and meet so many different people and you get to do things you wouldn’t get to do if you weren’t the showgirl and Miss Maitland. It’s a lot of fun,she said.
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She will compete in the zone final of The Land Sydney Royal Showgirl Competition in Mudgee in March for a chance at a spot in the state final.
Entries in the 2019 competition close at 11.59pm today.