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Thursday, March 12, 1998 Published at 04:44 GMT



UK

Surprise - beauty queens are back
image: [ Student Leylani Dowding carries off the Miss Great Britain Universe honours ]
Student Leylani Dowding carries off the Miss Great Britain Universe honours

A chance encounter outside a London nightclub has led to a top beauty title for a 19-year-old student.

Leylani Dowding was waiting outside the Hippodrome for her boyfriend when one of the organisers of the Miss Great Britain Universe contest approached her and told her she should enter.

She decided to have a go and carried off the crown.


[ image: Leylani Dowding: crowned winner]
Leylani Dowding: crowned winner
Leylani, a student in Bournemouth, Dorset, said: "I had an opportunity thrown at me and I've been brought up to take every opportunity I get.

"I definitely would have regretted it if I hadn't done it."

Last year Britain had no entrant in the Miss Universe in America pageant because the status of the beauty pageant had fallen so low.

Now Leylani will represent Britain in the international final in Hawaii in May.


[ image: Attempt to knock spots off the opposition]
Attempt to knock spots off the opposition
This year's event was headlined as the rebirth of girl power, although the swimsuit section was still a highlight for some members of the audience.

Compere Tony Anstis said: "They are taking off the Spice Girls who epitomise girl power.


[ image: Compere Toby Anstis: 'It's all about girl power']
Compere Toby Anstis: 'It's all about girl power'
"These girls will come out here, to show off British talent. They are not going to say 'We do loads of work for charity'.

"They are going to tell us about what they do and what their ambitions are. Everything has come full circle now, and I think it is perfectly legitimate and cool to have a Miss Universe contest now."

Many in the audience were parents but the jury on the male lechery versus girl power debate may still be out.

However in a new departure for the world of beauty contests not one of this year's contestants wanted to work with animals or children.








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