BRAINS as well as beauty are the secrets behind the success of this year’s Miss Oxfordshire Now the newly-crowned queen hopes to question stereotypes and use her intelligence to win the national title, Miss England.

Layla Claridge, 23, won the county’s beauty pageant title in a hotly contested competition which featured dress making and debating.

The Charlbury resident, who beat 13 others to win the coveted title, said: “I’ve entered other pageants before, but this is the first time that I’ve entered Miss Oxfordshire.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m so pleased that I’ve got through to represent the community and the county.”

Miss Claridge’s mother, 50-year-old Cheryl Page, said: “I’m incredibly proud of her.

“Layla’s always been a very independent person and when she wants something, she goes and gets it.”

At the Miss Oxfordshire contest in the Oxford Belfry Hotel in Milton Common last Sunday, contestants also needed to create an “eco-friendly” dress scrutinised by judges.

Miss Claridge, who currently works in the examinations office at John Mason School in Abingdon, said: “It was a lot of fun doing the eco-round.”

Previously she spent 14 months giving guided tours of historical areas while working on two cruise ships in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

Before working on cruise ships, she attended Royal Holloway, University of London, where she did a Bachelors and a Masters in Rhetoric.

“I want to challenge the conventional idea of beauty queens, they don’t just have to be blonde and beautiful.

“They have to have brains as well,” she said.

The title is currently held by Dr Carina Tyrell, a junior doctor at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.