A GREEN-FINGERED teaching assistant has become York’s newest beauty queen, after winning the coveted Miss Earth competition.

Caroline Duffy, of Penyghent Avenue in Burnholme, beat off competition from 48 other finalists to scoop first place in the English final of the planet-saving pageant. After representing the Yorkshire and Humber region, she will now go on to represent England in the international Miss Earth final in the Philippines next month.

The 21-year-old, who is a member of Friends of The Earth and the World Wildlife Fund, and also has an adopted orang-utan, said she was thrilled to have won.

“It’s something I am so happy about,” she said. “I was over the moon and ecstatic, but in so much shock.”

At Saturday’s UK final in Royal Leamington Spa, contestants had to complete various challenges before the judges, and outline their environmental credentials.

Caroline’s presentations included a speech about saving the rainforest, and talks about her own work locally.

“I am so passionate about rainforests,” she said.

“Without them, our planet would not survive. I was trying to teach that, together and with determination, we can move forward to happier, healthier, more sustainable lives. I tried to get that message across.”

Caroline will head to the Philippines on October 19, for three weeks, when she will go head to head with 80 other eco-warriors from around the world for a £10,000 prize and international glory.

For winning the UK final, she also got a crown that she said was “gorgeous” and a custom-made designer bag, complete with Swarovski crystals.

The former Fulford School pupil currently works as a volunteer teaching assistant at St Aelred’s RC Primary School, and as a volunteer at Low Moor community allotments with local children, helping them grow their own fruit and vegetables.

She said she is also looking into becoming a “green guru” with the Community Service Volunteers (CSV), to help further raise environmental issues.

Caroline was one of three York contestants who represented the Yorkshire and Humber region in Saturday’s final, with Gemma Hale, 21, and Rebecca Geldard, 20, also taking part.