It was a special moment for Nikita Ward when she was unveiled as the 2019 Lady of the Lake. Her grandfather, Francie Ward has been part of the fabric of the festival for a long number of years and he was among the expectant crowd waiting to see what local face lay beneath the hood last week on the first evening of the festival.

“He has been so heavily involved for so many years, especially with things like the fancy dress. Unfortunately he can’t take as active a role now. I am very close to him so it was just lovely for him to be there when I was unveiled. It was a special moment for him to be there and I know he was delighted,” Nikita explained.

Over the course of the ten day festival Nikita will attend many events and she is looking forward to chatting to festival goers and seeing all the fantastic events that are on the programme.

“I’ve always loved the festival so to be the Lady this year is just brilliant. I am looking forward to it all but I always think the Fair Day is fantastic. There is a great atmosphere for that day and it is a great day out for all the family with everyone coming together. I love it,” she explained.

Nikita was told she would be this year’s Lady of the Lake eight days before her unveiling and said it was hard to keep things a secret from so many people. “I was only allowed to tell my fiancée and my sister so none of the rest of my family knew. It was hard not to tell them and I honestly don’t think that they had a clue. I really didn’t expect to be picked and it was lovely when I was told. I think my family was as shocked as me when they saw it was me. There was a few tears from some of them,” Nikita told the Impartial Reporter.

The Lady of the Lake is chosen every year by the people in the community with voting boxes in shops and businesses around the town.

Nikita joins a famous list as a Lady of the Lake. She works part time in Super Valu in Irvinestown while she studies to become a nurse at Magee University.

“I just love everything about the festival and it is a real honour to be the Lady of the Lake this year,” she concluded.