TEENAGER Caroline Welch has struck a blow for Doncaster - by becoming the borough’s first Miss South Yorkshire.
The 17-year-old former Campsmount School pupil, from Moss, was crowned at a competition at The Consort Hotel, Thurcroft, Rotherham, four years after the county contest was set up at Doncaster Racecourse.
Three previous winners had all been from Rotherham.
For Caroline, it is success at her debut attempt, as it is the first time she has entered a beauty contest.
Now she is hoping to win Miss England in June, with the prospect of entering Miss World if she wins the national title.
In the meantime, she hopes to use her newly acquired status to raise money for charities which are close to her heart.
She said: “I’d always been interested in beauty pageants, but this was the fist time I had ever entered one. It was a bit of a shock to win, and I certainly didn’t expect to.
“My best friend’s mum, Suzanne Hughes, was Miss England in 1981, and that finally inspired me to enter.
“It is not just about beauty, it is also about being charitable and intelligent, too.”
Caroline plans to be a make-up artist, and has a place booked on a course in Bradford. Eventually she hopes to make a living doing make-up for weddings and ladies who are going to the horse races.
She is planning on joining forces with a friend who makes fascinators, a type of headpiece worn by women at special occasions.
But in the meantime she has events to attend as Miss South Yorkshire, ranging from fashion shows to cheque presentations.
She will be running her own charity events, and plans to use them to raise money for the Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice and for animal charities.
She loves dogs and horses and is an avid horse racing fan - even though she doesn’t gamble.
“I love horses,” Caroline said. “And going to the races means I can dress up too. I’ve been to the races in Doncaster, as well as York and Ascot.”
She will wear the Miss South Yorkshire crown for a year.
All the 22 Miss South Yorkshire finalists competed in various events throughout the contest, during which £8,000 has been raised for five charities, some of which were personally selected by the girls themselves. The judges included South Yorkshire professional Latin dancers Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova, formerly of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.