By David Hennessy
28- year- old Hayley Reynolds was selected as the 2022 London Rose at the Clayton Crown Hotel in Cricklewood on Saturday night.
It was the first London Rose Selection Ball to take place since 2019 due to the Rose of Tralee being cancelled for the last two years on account of the pandemic.
Hayley is a personal trainer and plays Gaelic football with St Colmcilles GAC in St. Alban’s.
Hayley Reynolds told The Irish World how it felt to be announced as 2022 London Rose of Tralee.
Hayley said: “I couldn’t actually believe it.
“It still didn’t hit me when it was all happening, because everything happened so quickly. Your sash is taken off and the London Rose one put on and it was all just a whirlwind.
“It just doesn’t feel real, I’m overwhelmed.
“It was unexpected to say the least but I’m so excited.”
Hayley will now go on to represent London at the Rose of Tralee International Festival in August.
“It’s scary because it’s unknown but I’m genuinely so excited to go on this new journey and see what happens when we get to Tralee.”
What does the Rose of Tralee mean to Hayley? “It’s such a wonderful opportunity for women to get together and represent themselves.
“It always has been something that I’ve wanted to try and see if I could represent my county, London because it is just such a nice thing to do.”
Hayley was selected from 12 other hopefuls. She wowed the judges with a self-penned poem about her experience of the London Rose of Tralee tour and the friendships she had forged along the way.
But she revealed to the Irish World that this poem was actually a last-minute decision.
“I wasn’t going to do a talent,” she laughs. “Because I don’t have many talents.
“But in the car on the way down- because I was last- my brother was like, ‘You might as well do something to finish it off’.
“I was like, ‘Well it’s a bit late now. Okay, maybe I can write a poem and do something like that’.
“I actually wrote a poem in the car on the way down. So I read a little poem out which I’m actually quite proud of. It was well received. Everyone enjoyed it, I think.”
Currently working as a personal trainer in her local area, the audience on the night enjoyed her stories of becoming self-employed.
She also spoke about playing GAA with St. Colmcille’s.
“I just love it. I love being part of a team.
“It’s so nice and it kind of almost feels like a second family.
“They’re massively supportive of everything that I’m doing, which is just fantastic.”
It was a team mate that actually encouraged Hayley to apply for the Rose of London.
“We were down in the club one evening after a match and Laura Fitzpatrick- She applied to be a London Rose before- just reminded me about it.
“She was the one who said, ‘You should do it’.
“And I did. I was like, ‘Gosh, I should apply now’.”
Born in the London area, Hayley’s father hails from Strokestown, Co. Roscommon while her maternal grandparents come from Castlemarket, Co. Kilkenny and Mohill, Co. Leitrim.
Hayley was supported by her family and GAA team mates on the night.
“They were over the moon. My brothers were jumping up and down and then they ran towards me. I think they forgot I was in heels, one of them came and bundled onto me.
“And I was like, ‘Okay, stop’.
“Everyone was just ecstatic.
“And the Gaelic football team were all screaming and so excited.
“I think I was still so shocked.
“It was amazing to see everyone get so excited.
“It’s nice that they’re behind me throughout the whole thing.”
Hayley, who has an honours degree in Geography from Sheffield Hallam University, recently left her corporate marketing job to become a personal trainer and has built a successful business in a relatively short space of time.
On the night Hayley was sponsored by her father’s company ECS Group, whose work she described in her father’s own uncomplicated terms.
“I said to my dad, ‘Dad, what should I say that you do?’
“And he said, ‘Just tell them that I dig holes and fill them with cement’.
“On the night I was asked and I was like, ‘I’ve just confirmed that he would like to be known as digging holes and filling them with cement.
“He works in construction doing groundwork but instead of explaining that it was easier to make it basic.”
Hayley was presented her sash by outgoing 2019 London Rose Laura Kennedy after Chairman Noel O’Sullivan announced her as the winner.
“I’m absolutely honoured to have been chosen as the 2022 London Rose ambassador. I’m still in disbelief and a little overwhelmed, I’m not sure when it’s going to fully sink in. In saying that, we had such a fabulous evening at the selection night, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of ladies to have been on tour with over the last month. Everyone should be so proud of themselves. I’m excited for what’s next in store over the next few months and representing London in Tralee.”