THE race is on to find a beauty to fly the flag for the region in the nation's biggest beauty pageant.

Potential contestants have almost a month to enter the Miss Durham Beauty Contest, which will be held for the second year at Sedgefield Racecourse, next month.

The winner will go on to compete in the Miss England final and could win a trip to China to represent the country in the Miss World contest.

When the racecourse staged the event for the first time last year, it received more than 50 entries, and organisers are looking to build on its success by planning a Mr Durham contest later this year.

Title holder Natalie Smith will return to the venue as a judge at the Miss Durham final on Tuesday, May 24, when the top 20 finalists will compete in three rounds -parading in evening wear, the colours of their favourite football team and club wear.

Racecourse manager Jim Allen said: "It would be great to see a local girl go on to compete in, and even win, Miss England. We are definitely looking to host a similar event for men, it is good fun and lots of people have been asking about a male version."

To enter, contestants, aged 17 to 24, need to supply a photograph, self-addressed envelope and personal details, including their name, address, telephone number, date of birth, height, hair and eye colour, and dress size.

They must be sent to Emma Samuels, Miss Durham Competition, Sedgefield Racecourse, Sedgefield, Stockton, TS21 2HW, by noon on Friday, April 29. All contestants will be invited to auditions on Tuesday, May 3, or Wednesday, May 4.

For the complete rules, further information or to sponsor a contestant, call Ms Samuels at Sedgefield Racecourse on (01740) 621925.