Hartlepool student Jade Walton will represent the region in a national beauty pageant this weekend – and has star backing.
The 19-year-old from Owton Manor has been selected as Teesside’s entry into Miss United Continents UK 2017.
The finals take place in Nottingham tomorrow.
Jade’s entry has been sponsored by Britain’s Got Talent star judge Alesha Dixon who she met when the pop singer visited Jade’s old school Manor Academy in 2011.
Jade will face strong competition on the night for the crown and the top prize of being flown off to Ecuador to represent the UK against other nations at the Miss United Continents 2017 beauty contest.
She said: “I got asked if I wanted to enter and was asked to send off some pictures and was put straight through to the finals on Saturday.
“All I had to do was get sponsorship. Alesha got me a modelling contract when I was younger after she came into Manor Academy.
“Since then we have stayed in contact. Alesha thought it would be good for me and offered to pay the £300.
“I haven’t done competitions like this before but have done modelling and photoshoots so I thought I would give it a go.
“I think it is a challenge.”
Alesha visited Manor Academy to mark the opening of a new music ‘boom-room’ when she enjoyed a tour around the whole school, met more than 250 performing arts students and even sang with a group of talented and lucky pupils.
She returned the following year. Her £300 sponsorship together with money raised from a sponsored basketball dribble by Jade is all going to forces charity Help For Heroes.
Jade, who plays for Teesside University’s Mowhawks basketball team, dribbled a ball over the equivalent of 500 miles.
She will take part in a catwalk and dance routine in tomorrow’s final against around a dozen other competitors from all over the country.
The judges include singer-songwriter and commercial model Saskia Vase, Emily Redfern who has been competing in pageants for two years, Mark Redfearn the current Mr United Continents UK and the current Miss United Continents UK Becky Heal.
Jade is currently winning an online vote.
Yo can vote for her at http://pageantvote.co/pageants/83.