A CARNIVAL atmosphere launched the search for a new pageant king and queen.
Dressed in flamboyant Rio-inspired outfits, in keeping with the theme of Miss Sunderland 2012, the reigning title holder and Mr North East brought the Winter Gardens to a standstill.
Pip Attle’s mum entered her into Miss Sunderland 2011 without her knowing, but winning the title has seen the 18-year-old compete in Miss England and undertake a host of modelling assignments and charity work.
Now she hopes another North East beauty will grab the opportunity with both hands.
Pip, from Chester-le-Street, said: “I never thought I’d be doing any of this in 2011.
“It’s been hard to take in and a bit surreal, but I’ve loved it.”
The Park View Community School sixth form student added: “In the week of the final I’d had three exams and I only went along as I thought it would be a chance to have my hair and make-up done. I never expected to win.
“Miss England was definitely a highlight, as has all the people I’ve met.
“I hope Miss Sunderland 2012 will be a girl like me who never expected it. Then she won’t take any of it for granted.”
Organisers of Miss Sunderland, now in its fourth year, promise to make this year’s the biggest yet and are on the hunt for 30 girls, aged 17 to 24, to take part in heats before the final at Rainton Meadows Arena on March 31.
The winner will represent the city at the Miss England final and receive a contract with model agency Glamrus.
On the same night, the final for Mr North East will find a hunk to represent the region at Mr England.
Last year’s winner Nathaniel Smith, 26, from South Shields, said: “I would say to anyone interested in modelling to go for it.
“It’s a life experience that not a lot of people can say they’ve had.
“It opens a lot of doors and introduces you to so many people in the industry.”
Simon Robertson of One Voice Productions, who runs Miss Sunderland, said: “We are looking for someone to represent the city who has inner and outer beauty.
“It’s not just about wearing pretty dresses, it’s about charity work too.
“Some people thought I was mad to bring the contest back four years ago, but I could see the potential in it and it’s been really successful.
“I definitely think Sunderland has a potential Miss England and Mr England, I wouldn’t run the competition otherwise. It’s just a case of finding them.”
This year’s contest will raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care and Beauty with a Purpose.
Barbara Cranston, community fund-raiser for Marie Curie, said: “The great thing about this contest is that the money raised by Miss Sunderland will stay in Sunderland.”
To enter Miss Sunderland 2012 or Mr North East click here.
For details on becoming a sponsor contact One Voice Productions on 487 6430.