A bevy of beauties

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LOVE them or hate them – you can’t deny beauty pageants are an entertaining affair.

A bevy of beauties battling it out for a crystal crown in an array of eye-catching outfits is a recipe for an interesting night out to say the least.

Unfortunately, the Miss 24 Carat pageant at the Stadium of Light didn’t have the stereotypical cat fights and back stabbing I’d hoped for: everyone seemed to genuinely get on.

However, it did prove to be a fun Friday evening filled with sequins, sashes, bonny lasses, fancy frocks and a former SAFC skipper thrown in for good measure.

A qualifier for this year’s Miss England in June, the pageant was staged for the first time by city businesswoman Jodie Breeds, who owns the 24 Carat salon in Grangetown.

Her golden girls were 13 lasses from Sunderland and beyond, who strutted their stuff in Venetian-style masks, eco-friendly dresses made from recycled goods and sweeping evening gowns.

You had to hand it to the competitors, they looked cool and collected as they slinked their way down the catwalk with big hair and mega-watt smiles.

It was a tough job judging them, but somebody had to do it and ex-footballer Michael Gray, city jeweller Harry Collinson, Mr England 2011 contestant Nathaniel Smith, Graham Robinson from SAFC Foundation, Katie McClements from Sun FM and Jade Keery from tanning experts St Tropez stepped into the breach.

The girls did their utmost to impress as they struck various poses in front of the panel, but they really shone in the Eco Round.

The carefully-crafted recycled dresses came in all shapes and sizes and were fashioned from everything from old CDs to former Royal Air Force uniforms.

Our favourites had to be the ones who’d made their dresses from old Sunderland Echos and other newspapers.

I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to make the Echo look cool, though I’m not sure how well their sartorial creations would hold up in the rain.

As with all pageants, there could only be one winner and that honour went to Holly Lyons, 18, a pretty pint-sized pageant princess from Easington Colliery.

Judge Harry Collinson explains why she stood out: “Holly stood out because of her personality, how she held herself and how she looked, she was very calm and I think she has a great chance at Miss England.”

Holly will head to the Miss England finals in Leicester to compete against some of the bonniest girls in the nation in the hope of bringing the top title home to the North East.

We wish her well, it’s about time Sunderland had some silverware.