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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Miss England urges local girls to enter Miss Cumbria contest

With her stunning good looks, flowing hair and slender figure, Katrina Hodge looks every inch the beauty that she is.

But her world of posh frocks, tiaras and lavish events is a million miles away from her normal full-time job.

For Katrina - dubbed Combat Barbie by colleagues - is a British Army soldier who also happens to be Miss England.

Currently on a career break from her role with the Adjutant Generals Corps, the Lance Corporal will hand over her crown and return to her more humdrum life in September.

But in the meantime, the Brighton belle is facing a whirlwind of public events and 'dos' as well as many long miles on the road drurmming up interest in this year's beauty contest.

Katrina, aged 22, this week embarked on a whistle-stop tour of Cumbria, which saw her call in to Carlisle, Penrith, Kendal and Barrow and chat to local lasses in the hope they will sign-up for the competition's Miss Cumbria qualifying heat. The winner automatically lands a place in the Miss England grand final.

"A lot of girls are put off entering because they think they are not the most beautiful girl.

"For Miss Cumbria we are looking for a good ambassador for the area. We are not looking for anything in particular, a certain type or certain look. We are trying to encourage girls to just go for it," said Katrina.

That 'go for it' attitude echoes her own rise to the top of the English beauty league. She won the title Miss Tunbridge Wells in 2008 and came fourth in Miss England the same year.

Last year she qualified as Miss Every Model and was placed second in the national final.

But in November she received a call at her army barracks telling her that the winner had relinquished her title following her arrest over an alleged nightclub brawl and offering her the crown.

With less than 24 hours notice to prepare, Katrina jetted off to South Africa - where she spent five weeks - for the 59th Miss World final.

Since then she says she has "experienced things I never thought I would", travelled widely and even fronted a lingerie underwear campaign

Katrina says she likes to be kept busy and the eventual winner will get out of it what they put in.

"I am getting to travel and meet new people on a daily basis.

"I have met some really great people, girls from all over the country that I never would otherwise. It is really good fun," she added.

During her Cumbrian visit, she pounded the streets with event organiser Mark Jones chatting to girls and urging them to set aside their inhibitions and take part.

"We've had a really positive response. Hopefully, those we spoke to will enter," she added.

Her final words of advice for would-be beauty queens? "Just go for it. Be yourself. I never expected to get anywhere. You could be shocked."

This year the Miss Cumbria organisers aim to raise money for the Variety Club Children’s Charity through contestant fundraising and activities.

Contestants have until March 24 to enter via www.miss-cumbria.co.uk. The final takes place in June.

The current Miss Cumbria is Eleanor Barr, of Barrow.

The Miss World 2010 finals are being held in Vietnam.

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