Event was confidence booster

September 06, 2017

Third placed Judy Atkinson (nee Nicholson) with second placed Jenny Krahnert (nee Shannon) and Miss Showgirl winner Sue Duguid (nee Gleeson) following the 1969 Miss Showgirl competition in Swan Hill.

For some the Miss Showgirl contest is a fun moment in the spotlight, but for Judy Atkinson (nee Nicholson) it was a competition that opened many doors.

‘‘I was inspired by a previous winner who was the first Aboriginal to enter into a Miss Showgirl competition,’’ she said.

‘‘I thought this would be an exciting event so I decided to purchase something to wear. I was only 17 at the time and working in Myers in Melbourne and travelled home the weekend of the show to enter in it.’’

Although she’d purchased a white dress with red trimmings and a wide-brimmed hat to wear on the day from a woman in Reservoir in Melbourne’s north, Mrs Atkinson ran out of time to pick up the outfit before returning to Swan Hill, leaving her uncertain about what she would wear when she took to the Miss Showgirl stage.

‘‘Early Saturday morning I was quite surprised when a motorbike came into our driveway,’’ she said.

‘‘I didn’t realise it was (the shop owner’s son) until he removed his helmet. He was one of the motorcycle police officers representing the Victorian Police in the show parade.’’

Mrs Atkinson ultimately finished third in the competition, but it inspired her to enter a number of future competitions.

‘‘It certainly gave me more confidence,’’ she said.

During the 1970s she entered into the Miss Greater Union Theatre competition and was interviewed on Channel 7’s talk show Two on the Aisle.

Mrs Atkinson said she also had a unique experience during a Fashions on the Field competition at the Melbourne Cup in the 1980s, when she was photographed by a Canadian newspaper photographer wearing her white, green and gold ensemble, inspired by the America’s Cup boat race.

Now living in Echuca, Mrs Atkinson said she was focused on supporting the next generation.

‘‘I encourage young Koori girls to take pride in themselves, walk tall and be proud of who they are,’’ she said.

‘‘I hope my involvement in Miss Showgirl might have helped to break down a few barriers.’’

■The RASV is looking for former Miss Showgirls to celebrate the competition’s 60th anniversary. Contact Annette Shiell by email at

or by phone on 92817427.

■To share your showgirl story with Country News, phone Alana Christensen on 58203237 or email

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