By entering a beauty pageant, a contestant has given back to an organisation that helped her family.

Julia Albert (26) entered this year's Miss Taranaki Beauty Pageant.

As part of the competition, contestants had to raise money for a selected charity. This year the charity was the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust.

"If it wasn't for the Rescue Helicopter, my step-dad wouldn't be alive today."


When Julia was 10, her step-dad Bill McGuinness was kicked in the head by a horse.

"We are lucky that he could go straight to Waikato Hospital, thanks to the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter."

She says she was excited to find out that she would be raising money for the Rescue Helicopter.

Julia raised $2000 for the Trust by organising a quiz night and selling raffle tickets.

"I went to local Stratford businesses and asked for donations for prizes. I am so thankful for the businesses. Without them I couldn't have raised such a substantial amount of money."

Raising the most money meant Julia could hand the cheque over to the Trust.

"It was a proud moment. It felt really good to give back to the Trust which helped my family."

Collectively, the contestants raised over $16,000 for the Trust.


Peter McDonald, who has served as a Trustee for the past seven years says he and his fellow Trustees appreciate the efforts made by Julia.

"It's because of people like this who help keep the Trust going."

As well as raising the most money, Julia came first runner-up in the competition.

"This is my first time competing so to receive first runner-up is amazing."

Julia says she was interested in entering the competition at 18 when her friend Rebecca Barrett entered.

"At the time it seemed so daunting. I'd never done anything like it. The competition is incredible. My confidence has grown in such a small time. I wish I had entered sooner."

She says she was overwhelmed when her name was called out.

"I had a lot of emotions. It was really unexpected and I was very excited."

The competition started in November and in the three-month period until the final night of the competition, the contestants participated in a number of community events.

"We also visited rest homes and talked to the residents. It was really nice being able to talk to them."

The contestants had to be sponsored by a local business. Each contestant had to speak about their sponsor's business on the final night.

"At the rest home we practised delivering our speeches and at the cocktail evening we spoke as a thank you to our sponsors."

Julia's sponsor was Simone Le-Arne Beauty.

"I'm friends with the owner of the business, Simone Cookson. I approached her and she has been so supportive throughout the entire process. I'm really thankful to her."

Julia says she encourages everyone who can, to enter the event.

"It's had such a positive impact on me and I would love to see more Stratford contestants."