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Watch out boys, there’s a new beauty in town, as the Face of Essex was crowned during a glittering ceremony in Romford, last night.

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The star-studded audience watched as Ruby Cooke beat 29 rival beauties to take the top spot, in the hotly-contested competition.

Thirty stunning girls took to a catwalk in the Brickyard Bar and grill, in South Street, Romford, to impress.

After months of searching, hundreds of entries, and weeks of shortlisting, the judges took just minutes to decide Ruby has what it takes to be the next Essex It girl, in the contest from the Recorder and Uppercut Hair Group.

The Only Way is Essex (Towie) twins and Essex Fashion Week founders Adam and Simon Ryan, compered, with Adam telling the crowd the girls were being judged on “confidence, personality and looks”.

The judging panel, which included Recorder editor Mark Sweetingham, Uppercut owner Trevor Vale, and more Towie twins Dino and Georgio Geoorgiades, said they were impressed by Ruby’s “looks, style, poise, and personality.”

During the show, Ruby revealed her “guilty pleasure” is boyband One Direction, telling the judges member Harry Styles “likes an older woman”.

She was crowned winner by Britain’s Next Top Model finalist Imogen Leaver, behind second place Chanel Shayler, 22, from Billercay; and third place Georgia Phillips, 20, from Romford.

Shanice Ayliffe, 19, from Rainham, was named the most popular contestant, after taking the highest number of readers’ votes.

Imogen told the Recorder: “I could imagine how nervous the girls were feeling on stage, but it’s all about projecting an air of confidence – it goes a long way.

“The overall standard was great, but there were definitely a few girls who really stood out – the judges had a hard task.”

Mark Sweetingham added: “It might sound clichéd, but choosing the final three was incredibly difficult - there were so many great girls there on the night.”

Simon Ryan said the competition proved Essex, and Havering, was the “place to be”.

He added: “The contest really goes to show how much talent there is in Essex. It’s the place to be and it has the people to be seen with.”

Essex stars, including Harry Derbridge and Ricky Rayment from Towie, and reality girl group Two Shoes, were cheering on the girls from the club’s VIP section.

Harry said: “The girls all seemed really good. They’re doing Essex proud.”

Nearly 500 girls entered the competition which has been running since October.

Ruby will now take home a £2,000 prize pack, which includes a year-long contract with top modelling agency RAGE Models, along with a professional portfolio to launch the winner’s career £400 designer clothes from Choice Design Wear, a year’s free hairdressing at Uppercut, six months’ free membership at Virgin Active Health Club, spa vouchers, VIP tickets to Romford club The Brickyard and a chauffeur-driven limo from LA Stretch Limos on the night.

She will also receive a year membership for the UK’s fastest growing talent and casting company based in Essex, Talent Talks.

Pick up Friday’s Romford Recorder for a double-page spread picture special

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