Life

Chris de Burgh's daughter Rosanna Davison on how eating healthy helps brings success

Former Miss World Rosanna Davison talks fashion, food, fitness, beauty pageants and her famous dad to Jenny Lee

Rosanna Davison is among the leading lights from the world of UK and Irish business, beauty and social media who will be at Secret to Success on November 5 in Belfast. Picture courtesy of Gill Books

SHE may be only 34 but Rosanna Davison has already enjoyed much success in life. Sure, she's the daughter of singer-songwriter Chris de Burgh, but it's Rosanna's own brains, beauty and personality that have brought her success.

It was while she was a first year student in UCD, studying sociology and history of art, and was out shopping with her mother that Rosanna was discovered by a model scout.

Rosanna reluctantly agreed to participate in the Miss Ireland contest, which she won. A few months later, at just 19 years of age, she was crowned Miss World 2003 – the first contestant from Ireland to win the coveted title.

In October 2012 she again made history becoming the first Irishwoman to appear topless on the cover of Playboy magazine, and in 2013, she posed naked in red-hot photos advocating her newly discovered vegan life style for a Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) ad, donating her fees to the charity.

More recently, Rosanna has turned her focus towards her passion for health and fitness. She completed a three-year course in Naturopathic Nutrition and Human Biochemistry and is currently completing a MSc degree in Personalised Nutrition through Middlesex University.

She has penned two bestselling books, Eat Yourself Fit and Eat Yourself Beautiful, and has a huge following on social media and RosannaDavisonNutrition.com.

Next week, she will be speaking at Northern Ireland's inaugural Secret to Success business and lifestyle event. The day-long event aimed at budding entrepreneurs will feature practical demonstrations and keynote addresses from other beauty and lifestyle experts including Apprentice finalist Grainne McCoy and social media expert Louise Brogan.

"I'm really looking forward to this new event. I will be sharing my 10 steps to success, with a focus on the health and wellness side of success, from looking after your mental and emotional wellbeing to your physical fitness. I trained in nutrition and am very much into using healthy foods and using supplements," says Rosanna, who has taken part in the in the gruelling Galway Ironman contest – which involved a half marathon, 90km bike ride, and 1.9 kilometre swim.

"Managing stress and spending time away from work is equally important. A few years ago when I was launching my books I was fully on and didn't take any time off and burnt myself out. I now realise it's important to take time out in the evenings and weekends and do something you enjoy that de-stresses you."

For Roseanna that's doing Pilates and taking her beloved Pomeranians Leo and Ted for walks.

"Pets are so therapeutic," she says about her fur kids. "I've had Ted since 2011 and he still sleeps on our beds."

With an audience of over 152,000 followers on her Instagram account, Rosanna markets her brand well – but she warns people to be wary of social media and to "continue to live in the present".

"You need to include social media in your life without letting it rule you," says Rosanna. Although she herself has been a victim of trolling, she has learnt to take criticism with a pinch of salt.

"I am shocked that people can be cruel to a total stranger but I'm never really offended by the words they say because I know it's not true," she says.

Rosanna is passionate about promoting healthier lifestyles – at home and abroad. She designs nutrition-focused wellness menus for the Constance Hotel Group, who have eight luxury hotels across the Indian Ocean.

"Times are definitely changing and it's really exciting to see people more interested in health, fitness and nutrition," she says.

But despite her own glowing skin and size eight figure, Rosanna is the first to admit she is far from perfect. "I still love a good party and eat chips if they are put in front of me."

She is also regularly struck by a "dark chocolate craving" and has created her own quick home-made chocolate bar, aptly entitled SOS Chocolate, using toasted coconut flakes, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, goji berries and dried apricots.

"We've all been there – in our pyjamas and desperate for some chocolate – so I made an easy recipe that that has no refined sugars and can be made in 15 minutes."

After finishing her masters degree in January, Rosanna plans to write more books, as well as hold events and workshops to inspire people to make positive changes to their lifestyles. She also doesn't rule out further television cookery opportunities.

What she won't be appearing in is Celebrity Big Brother – despite media rumours.

"My agency in London rang me up and told me that was in the tabloids. It was news to me. I would find Big Brother tough – I don't think I'm fiesty or argumentative enough to survive."

Just last month Rosanna was a judge for this year's Miss Ireland; she firmly believes such contests have an important role to play in today's world.

"Beauty pageants have a worse reputation than they deserve. Miss World is now using beauty with a purpose and Miss Ireland is also more focused on female empowerment. I was impressed by how the contestants this year who were interested in using the competition as a platform for lending their views and support to causes such as mental health and homelessness."

When it comes to her bulging wardrobe, Rosanna describes her style as "feminine", but admits it is changing.

"As I've got older I enjoy comfort over being a slave to fashion. I'm wearing jeans now and really enjoy high street stores such as Zara, H&M and River Island."

"Where I would indulge is in accessories, handbags and shoes and one of my favourite designers in Gucci. I also love Irish designers and have worn Jennifer Rothwell and absolutely adore Dawn FitzGerald Atelier, who made one of my wedding dresses," adds Rosanne, who married model Wesley Quirke in May 2014 – in ceremonies in Dublin, Ibiza and Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

She does of course own quite a number of red dresses and has learnt over the years to anticipate those lady in red headlines, in acknowledgement of her father's most famous hit Lady in Red – about his wife Diane. De Burgh of course also wrote the song For Rosanna, from his 1986 album Into the Light, in her honour.

"I've definitely had to wear a lot of red dresses, but it's fine," she laughs. "I'm proud of my dad. He's still going strong and in the middle of writing his next album. As long as people are still buying his albums and going to his concerts he will keep going, because he loves what he does."

Was she not tempted to follow in his musical footsteps?

"I can't sing at all," she laughs.

:: Lynsey Bennett, co-founder of Belfast-based Lusso Tan, will host the Secret to Success beauty and business event at the Crown Plaza, Shawsbridge, Belfast on November 5. For tickets and further information see Eventbrite The Secret to Success.

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