The first Jacaranda candidate for 2016 Shannon Carter.
The first Jacaranda candidate for 2016 Shannon Carter. Adam Hourigan

Shannon overcomes nerves to be first candidate

FOR a young woman living a regional city today, coming forward and putting yourself out there so a historic tradition can continue does warrant a degree of respect, not only from the community in which she will be representing, but also from her Gen Y peers.

Thankfully in 24-year-old Shannon Carter's case, her initial hesitation and the nerves she felt when nominating as the first Jacaranda Festival candidate for 2016, were quickly quashed by the support of her workplace and the hard working committee behind the country's oldest floral festival.

The Grafton raised lifestyle worker will be co-sponsored by her employer Cranes Community Programs and cafe Toast Espresso.

Shannon said she never dreamt she would step-up to be a candidate, "I guess I didn't really think about it at all growing up", but with a little reassurance from her work colleagues and the festival's new president, her initial "No way, I don't think I can do it" was replaced with resounding "okay, I'll give it a go".

Shannon said having a best friend whose sister is the president of the Jacaranda Committee contributed greatly to swaying her as did her a work colleague who was a former Jacaranda Princess.

"Between Kirsten (Smith) messaging me and Leanne (Smith) offering to help me with my campaign, I felt more reassured," Shannon said. "I'm quite a reserved person, and never thought I'd have the confidence to do it but this will definitely be a booster for me. And if that's all I walk away with, I'll be happy with that."

Shannon moved to Grafton with her family when she was three, and was educated at South Grafton Infants, Primary and High schools before joining the workforce which began at McDonalds and is now in the aged cared and disability sector.

"I really love it. I work in a few different areas and enjoy them all, the variety is really good."

Shannon said her Sydney based grandmother has been a huge fan of the festival making sure she travelled north to pay them a visit every year during those two weeks in late October, early November.

"She might even be moving up here at some stage, she's not so well but she was happy when I told her I was going to be a candidate."

Shannon's next step is to starting plan a fundraiser or two to help generate the $2500 candidate requirement to help ensure the festival continues to thrive next year.

"I'm looking forward to learning more about the festival's history and the personal development this opportunity will bring. I know I say the word 'like' a lot when I'm speaking, so I'm going to work on that."

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