BRAINS and good looks — that's Bolton's newly-crowned beauty queen Laura Collins.

The 22-year-old, who lives in Westhoughton, is a trainee solicitor.

Laura was crowned the winner of Miss Bolton and Bury on Sunday.

She battled it out against 17 other hopefuls and competed in four stages before being presented with her crown at The Last Drop, Village Hotel and Spa.

Laura, who was runner up in 2013, said: "I'm really really overwhelmed because I wasn't expecting it at all.

"When I entered in 2013 it was quite obvious who was going to win, but this time it was just an open playing field so I am really overwhelmed I won, it still hasn't quite sunk in.

"I wasn't sure about pageants but didn't want to have an opinion on it before I had done it, so I tried it and it was just people raising money for charity and having a great time.

"I want to get involved in all types of organisations in Bolton and Bury especially the council and will probably now chose a different charity to raise money for because I want to focus on mental health.

"There is a stigma attached to mental health and it is a silent illness so I want to raise awareness of it.

"It will be hard as I am studying for my LCC to become a solicitor and I have a full time job in a property investment company but this is something I am passionate about so it won't be a hindrance."

Contestants underwent four stages in the competition, firstly raising money for children's charity Variety, followed by an interview, a public vote and then the infamous cat walk.

Student Giorgia Frost, aged 16, was crowned junior category winner. She said: "It's just brilliant, I'm really excited, I just can't believe it.

“I've done pageants since I was 13 and have entered Miss Bolton and Bury three times, so this is my third time lucky.

Laura and Giorgia will now be entered in to the semi final of Miss England with the hope of ultimately competing for Miss World.

Senior 2013 winner Lucy Physick, 22, from Westhoughton held the title for two years and found the experience life changing.

She said: "I've never been a confident person.

"I was really paranoid about what people thought of me but the competition has brought the best side out in me and made me realise that people are beautiful on the inside as well as outside.

"I would say to the new winners just enjoy your time, it will go really fast.

"Being Miss Bolton is much more than just the title, you need to believe in yourself and always keep smiling.

"It is hard work having the title because you want to make your friends and family proud and the people of Bolton and Bury proud but I am proud of myself because I am a much more independent person now and it just shines out of me."

Runner up winners in the senior category included Emily Law, 23 from Bolton who came third, and Kelly Smith, 20 from Bolton in second place.

In the junior section, Thea Brickles, aged 13, from Whitefield took third place while Mercedes Mercer, aged 15, from Bolton was runner up.

The competition also awarded Helaina Morgan, aged 20, from Bolton with the Echo fashion award, in which contestants are set the challenge of making their own outfit. The personality award was won by Hannah Worrall, aged 23, from Bolton.

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