Meet the Sheffield grandmother competing to become Classic Miss British Isles

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There’s positive. And then there’s Julia Goodinson. Everything about her is can do. If ever anyone is looking on the bright side of life, it is her.

Not that the Sheffield 50-something grandmother has had it easy or is taking things for granted. It is a state of mind which determination and hard work have given her.

Take the fact that actress and model Julia this month made the National Final of the Classic Miss British Isles 2020/21 competition.

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It is the biggest modelling competition in the isles. Every year, judges look through a huge number of entries and 50 finalists are offered the chance to take part in the national final, representing their geographical location. Julia travelled to Chester Racecourse full of hope.

Speaking about the thought of winning, she told The Star: "It would be wonderful if I won it; it'd be a massive achievement at my age. I'd love that.

"Obviously, there are lots of people from all over the British Isles, so it's going to be a tough competition, but it would be great towin.

She didn’t win.

But is that getting Julia down? No chance. “The competition is for the over 40s and a lot of the 2,000 applications were from women in their 40s.

“I’m in my late 50s so it was good to get there.

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“There were 50 finalists and I was delighted to be one. It was a fantastic day, I made loads of friends, there was lots of glitz and glamour.

“I was on the catwalk twice, we modelled cocktail gowns, evening gowns and did a photoshoot. It’s amazing I was there.”

A lesson in taking the positives from what many may have seen as a negative. And typical of a Sheffielder who refuses to give in.

Julia was raised in Norton and still lives in the suburb now. She went to the former Rowlinson School, which was on the site now occupied by the St James shopping centre.

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When Julia left school, she trained as a nurse but in her late 20s a chance encounter with a Star photographer changed her thinking.

It was a hot day and Julia was asked to pose with an ice cream. Star photographers do that sort of thing.

But this was not a random snap. The picture made the front page and got Julia thinking.

“It gave me the idea that this was what I wanted to do. It had been in my head before, but that helped,” she says.

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So how to make this dream work? One published picture was not going to be enough.

“I contacted agencies but I was five ft five and you needed to be taller. You were often turned away if you were the wrong size. I got a lot of rejections, so had to look at what I could do.”

That positive attitude and determination shines through again. Julia turned to commercial work where height wasn’t a factor. She did shoots for a DIY firm and a cane furniture maker.

“Now height isn’t so important. It is about the individual,” she says, happy that the industry is changing to be more inclusive.

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She looks after herself, doing spin classes at the gym three times a week. But there is a guilty secret.

“I eat healthy, but I do love chocolate. It’s my downfall.

“I look after my skin too, use the right products, it is about looking good but also being healthy.”

Julia is also a trained ballroom and Latin American dancer at Presidents Award level, the highest you can get. The discipline required to do that has helped her, as have the dresses. “They come in handy for modelling,” says Julia.

She is now in a position where modelling is her living and she is called about work.

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“I’ll do anything that comes in - lifestyle or fashion photographs, your CV has to show you’re continually working,” says Julia.

“I’ll take paid or unpaid, it is all good experience and I’ve got a lot of work for my age.”

Acting is a more recent addition to her CV. She has no acting background but that wasn’t going to stop Julia.

“I’ve not been to drama school and I’ve not done any training,” she says. “I was told to try but it sounded like a lot of faff so I practised in front of the mirror.

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“I joined an agency and did unpaid work. I was being told I’d done really well when I got a role in a Bollywood film called 1921.”

Now her acting is taking off and she’s filmed scenes for the Everyone’s Talking About Jamie film, but doesn’t yet know if they’ve made the cut.

Julia has also had roles which have made the IMDb, an online database of information related to films, television programs, home videos, video games, and streaming content.

And she was in Shed 7s comeback video Room In My House, which was filmed at Wentworth Woodhouse.

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Plenty of variety and lots of hard work. She could be forgiven for getting carried away. Instead, she says it shows age is no barrier to success.

“When I stand back and think I’m doing all this, it shows you have the opportunity to get up and go out and see how far you can go,” she says.

“You don’t have to look a certain way, be a certain type, there are roles for everyone. You don’t stop until the last tune has been played.

“It has been a hard road and there were times when I thought this isn’t going to work, but I pushed myself through knockbacks and kept pushing until people said ‘That’s great’. People were clapping me on set, that’s really good, then the knockbacks disappear.”

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Julia has a daughter Natalie, 37, and two grandchildren Hollie, five, and Maisie, nine. She has lived in other areas of Sheffield such as Charnock and Ranmoor, but Norton was always going to draw her back.

“I’m very much a home bird,”she says. “I had a really good childhood, and I like to feel that I’m back home. When I’m away, I do get a bit homesick.”

The family home was made by her mum Jean and dad John. Sadly, Jean passed away at the start of lockdown in 2020 after contracting Covid.

Julia couldn’t visit her and started a campaign for relatives to be given better visiting rights, which MP Louise Haigh took on.

“Mum died alone and the grief of that I couldn’t get over.

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“But she would be proud of me now, she would have wanted to come to the competition and I didn’t want to give up.”

Even in dark moments, Julia remains positive. It’s an attitude which has served her well and helped her get where she is. So what about the future? It’s bright, of course.

“I’m going to carry on with modelling and acting,” she says.

“I’ve got film work in two productions I can’t tell you about until they are released but it is good work and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’m going to carry on modelling, do more competitions and will carry on until I can’t do any more. I’m really looking forward to the future.”

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