CONTESTANTS from around the country travelled to York to take part in a national beauty pageant for babies and children.

The Miss Natural Sparkle 2013 and Miss Glitz Sparkle 2013 competitions were held at Dunnington Sports Club and saw more than 20 children compete in natural and glitz categories – with and without make-up and spray tans.

Children as young as 19 months old to 16 years old took part in the competition, which has faced criticism in the local community. Three boys aged between three and ten competed in the Prince category.

Dale and Rachel Tate, from Gainsborough, brought their daughters Bethany, aged nine, and Melissa, six, to take part in the Miss Glitz Sparkle competition and viewed the event as confidence building.

Mr Tate said: “We entered it because Bethany lacked confidence and was being bullied. She became a young ambassador for the Bullies Out charity, and decided she wanted to be a model and it’s helped.

“She has a bone problem in her chest but now doesn’t have problems getting changed in PE lessons.

“It’s helped her come out a lot more, she’s a lot more confident, a lot less quiet. She’s happy to play with other children.

“Melissa likes to do it because she sees her sister doing it, so we let her.

“This is the third time for both of them. Bethany picks the events she wants to do, likes this one, as she can do glitzy or normal. I’m a bit sceptical about it, putting make-up on them, but she loves it.”

Claire Walker, who travelled from Northallerton with her 19-month-old daughter Aloka-Romaine for the Miss Glitz Sparkle competition, said she would travel around the country for the experience.

She said: “I would travel all over the country for them and we have another one in Dudley in a couple of weeks. We did a photo shoot last time and she really enjoyed it. If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t like it. I won’t make her do it.”

Organiser Leanne Woodall said: “The event went really well, considering the weather.

“Everyone was happy and they all want to do the next heat we’re holding, so it was a good day. I’ve had 100 per cent positive feedback, and thanks from people for inviting them to the pageant.”