Laughter and life lessons as we celebrate 55 years of Forbes Showgirl

Stories and laughter flowed freely as Forbes Showgirls from across 55 years of the competition gathered last Saturday.

1963 winner Sandra Sippe (nee Low), our own Sydney Royal winner Fiona Blundell (nee Woodburn) and most recent Showgirl Grace Allen shared their memories of the competition and reflected on how it has changed.

Amidst laughter about blisters and debate about the competition’s name, women shared how Showgirl had benefitted them.

Sandra Low was a somewhat reluctant recruit when the competition was in its infancy.

“On thinking back it was obvious that this was a great idea and would hugely widen the exposure of Australian agriculture,” she said.

“I gained confidence in how to mix with people one had never met, deal with unexpected issues and that prior preparation prevents poor performance.”

She encouraged young people to approach life with wide open curiosity and embrace new experiences. 

Forbes’ 1998 Showgirl, 1999 Sydney Royal winner, Fiona Blundell (nee Woodburn) saw Showgirl as an opportunity to reconnect with the rural life she loved – having worked overseas and resettled in Sydney. 

As a State Showgirl, it gave her that connection and a lot more. 

“There were a lot of life lessons that I learned through Showgirl that I wasn’t conscious of at the time,” Fiona said.

“In hindsight now, I’m really grateful for the experience.”

Grace Allen, Forbes’ 2017 Showgirl and second runner up at Sydney this year, celebrated how the competition gave women aged 18 to 24 an opportunity and a platform.

“The sisterhood of Showgirl is connecting regional women with like-minded women so that together we may be a force to be reckoned with,” Grace said.

Women travelled from Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and the region for the luncheon.

They included (pictured) back Melanie Dunn (Bett, 2008), Fiona Blundell (Woodburn, 1998), Jenny Shephard, (Zillman, 1991), Sandra Low (nee Sippe, 1963), Donna Galvin (Sly, 1980), Vicki Grant (Sharkey, 1979), Jennifer Jones (Sharp, 1978), Judy Scorpecci (O’Brien, 1967), Wendy McMaugh (Cartwright, 1975), Robyn Miller (1974), Dianne Hodder (Oliver, 1966), Anita Morrison (Neville, 1987), front Chelsea Lander (Ridley, 2003), Sally Dobell (West, 2009), Sarah Sweeney (2012), Annabelle Green (2013), Amelia Sweeney (2016) and Grace Allen (2017) and  Shannen Toole (2014).