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Miss Leeds - the woman revealed

Paul Clarke gets to know a Yorkshire beauty

Published on June 1st 2011.

Miss Leeds - the woman revealed

Anyone growing up in the 1970s will remember Miss World on primetime BBC1 as women with huge Cheryl Cole style hair paraded around in skimpy swimsuits .

“I am absolutely shocked as I didn’t think I had a chance of winning,” she said,  clutching a huge bouquet of flowers. 

So it may come as a surprise to many that Miss World is still going strong and that 20 young women were battling it out to become Miss Leeds – the first step on the ladder to Miss World fame. 

Halo nightclub was packed with a very raucous crowd of family and friends as the ‘girls’ who had passed a rigorous audition process were put through their paces in three rounds. 

But before the main event Confidential caught up with outgoing Miss Leeds Katie Farr.

 “It’s been an amazing year since I won as it gave me so many opportunities I’d have never had.” Katie said as she prepared to hand over her crown. 

“I beat more than 2000 people to make the last 10 of the Next Model Competition modelling for a big retailer, and I got a chance to spend two months working for the Variety Club.” 

Winning Miss Leeds qualified Katie for Miss England where she made the top 20 out of 60, but the Leeds University politics graduate - with an IQ of 140 - was then selected for another version of Miss World. 

“I was asked to enter Miss World University in South Korea where we did voluntary work and took part in debate forums where we discussed the political situation in South Korea and other international issues. 

“I was up against smart and beautiful women, so it was hardly Bimbos for peace, and I was amazed when I won.” 

The competition itself started off in traditional way with the young women – not girls as this is after all the new millennium – parading around in frocks from Lable Boutique. 

Host Rich Williams reminded that there are three rules for those entering Miss Leeds – you have to be between 18-24, have never posed topless and never been married.  

Our judges for the night were a representative of the event charity Haven, the out going Miss Leeds and two obligatory local C list ‘celebs’. 

So far, so traditional.  Even more so when you note that although the women don’t appear unhealthily thin, it is also interesting to clock that none of them appear to be anywhere near a size 16 – the average size for women in the UK.  

If this competition wanted to be truly radical it would have a couple of size 16 plus women in the final line up strutting their stuff.  After all, even the vacuous The Only Way Is Essex has the token bigger woman. 

The competition really came to life during the Eco round where the women had to show off costumes they had made themselves from materials they had recycled. It was also our first opportunity to hear them speak explaining the thinking behind their green evening wear.

 I was impressed with both the well-articulated thinking behind most of the dresses and the hours put into creating them.   Particularly impressive was one contestant’s dress where she has sewn the Cross of St George and the Iranian flag together to represent her Anglo-Iranian roots. 

Now we were down the business end of the final where the 20 become 10, which certainly raised the noise levels as the families roared on their own favourites.

 The final 10 made a final direct plea to the judges why they should represent their city before the panel retired to reach a verdict. 

Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for – the crowning of the new Miss Leeds.  So after a suitably drawn out X Factor pause…the new Miss Leeds was Kelsey Sutcliffe. 

All beauty pageant winners seem to look utterly shell-shocked but Kelsey raised the bat even higher as she wandered forward looking utterly stunned.  Confidential caught up with insurance worker Kelsey afterwards and she was still on cloud nine. 

“I am absolutely shocked as I didn’t think I had a chance of winning,” she said,  clutching a huge bouquet of flowers. 

“It’s been an amazing night and the girls have been brilliant, really helping each out.  I was thinking of doing more travelling this year, but I’m now going to focus on doing my best as Miss Leeds and I can’t wait for the Miss England final.” 

A word for the event stylists here who resisted turning Kelsey and the others into tanned monstrosities like Jordan/Katie Price, or whatever her name is this week. 

“It’s gone really well tonight and I thought the judges had a tough time picking a winner, but Kelsey will make a great Miss Leeds.” Says Chris Nightingale from the organising team. 

 ms leeds 4.jpgBut Confidential had to ask him the big question: surely Miss Leeds is out of date in an age of strong female role models? 

“This sort of beauty pageant is where we are looking for their personality and the whole package. That’s why we don’t have the swimwear round any more and we have included the Eco round which is far more relevant for a modern contest.” 

This sort of contest clearly divides opinion but the women have spent time this year fundraising for the Haven breast cancer charity in Leeds, handing over a cheque for more than five grand. 

“If tell you that today alone 12 women in Yorkshire have been diagnosed with breast cancer then I think the work these women have put into raising the money is amazing,” says Debra Horsman from Haven. 

“We offer a safe, supportive support to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, but it costs about £1000 for each woman.  So the money raised here has made sure that at least five women can access our free services which are open to all. 

“The contestants have been so enthusiastic raising this money they have also done a  brilliant job of raising our profile which is a huge help to us.”

 There will always be strong feeelings on both sides of the debate on the merits of beauty pageants in the modern age,  but it would be a bit churlish not to wish Kelsey Sutcliffe the best of luck as she represents our city in the Miss England final.

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