Miss Universe bid by former North Walsham carnival queen

One-time north Norfolk Goth Rebecca Richardson is vying for the chance to become Miss Universe.

Miss Richardson will be among 30 national finalists taking the stage in Birmingham on May 1 for the Miss Universe GB final.

If successful, the 23-year-old UEA student will fly to Brazil to join contestants from all over the world competing for the Miss Universe title in September.

Miss Richardson, from North Walsham, first wore a sash and tiara as she paraded through her home town as its carnival queen in 2007.

The former North Walsham High School girl's beauty queen ambitions received a major fillip later the same year when she was crowned Miss Norwich and went on to represent the area in the Miss England final.

'Winning Miss Norwich gave my confidence a huge boost,' said Miss Richardson, who confessed to being a 'bit of a Goth' in her mid teens and 'a bit grungy' at 18.

She earned her place in May's contest after an audition in London where she was interviewed with more than a dozen other hopefuls.

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Miss Richardson, who is in her first year of a degree in leisure and event management, said she had mixed experiences of the modelling world and had formed a small company called Crystal Clear which ran free advice workshops for girls with similar modelling ambitions.

'There are lots of scams and pressures out there – it's not all glamour,' she said.

In the past she had paid �500 for a portfolio of re-touched photos which she had been told would help her modelling career and which reputable agencies had dismissed as useless.

She had also been told by one London agency that she needed to get a tan and lose weight. 'I'm 24inches round the waist which is a size zero. If I lose weight and turn to the side I will be see-through! It really upset me. I knew I was too skinny if anything and certainly didn't need to lose any weight,' she said.

Miss Richardson said she was encouraged that a size 16 girl had come second in Miss England three years ago and hoped it heralded a rethink about beauty.

She is very keen in her workshops to persuade non size-zero girls that they should not try and change their shape. 'Curvy and voluptuous is sexy and beautiful,' she said.

As part of her Miss Universe GB bid Miss Richardson must raise money for the contest's chosen charity, the Joshua Foundation, which provides holidays and treats for families with children suffering from terminal cancer.

She is hoping to organise a go-karting day and a fund-raising evening at the Constantia Restaurant at East Runton.