JOY, laughter, tension and tears flowed as 18 excited hopefuls lined up to qualify for Miss England.

( Click here for video of the winners, and click here for video of the other contestants and category winners.)

After four hours of performance, parading, interviews and deliberation, a dream finally came true for law student Ashley McKeeve, aged 19.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," said ecstatic Ashley, crowned Miss Halton Pride 2007 by Halton Mayor John Swain.

"I had a passion to win Miss England, ever since I was five!"

(Click here for a picture gallery of all the contestants.)

Cheers greeted contestants making their swimwear debut at Fords social club, on Friday evening.

Each girl demonstrated their versatility in a three-minute talent show.

Poetry and songs were followed by an elegant evening wear parade.

After a nail-biting wait, judges selected their final seven - Nicola Bean, aged 18, of Widnes; Catriona Cameron, aged 20, of Runcorn; Faye Jones, aged 21, of Widnes; Suzanne McCulloch, aged 24, of Rainhill; Ashley McKeeve, of Wigan; Gemma Roscoe, aged 21, of Widnes and Jodie Webster, aged 18, of Runcorn.

Third place went to Jodie and Faye was runner-up.

Ambitious Ashley, an extra in Coronation Street and Hollyoaks, pledged to support the hospice.

She said: "My aunt, Val Murphy, lives in Halton village and my uncle, Frank, died at Halton Haven. That's why the hospice is close to me."

She was a Miss England finalist last year, as Miss Warrington, and now aims to qualify for Miss World.

TRAINEE legal executive Gemma Roscoe, aged 21, is our favourite!

She won our Runcorn & Widnes World website phone/text poll - by a big majority.

"I'm overwhelmed," said Gemma, of Widnes.

"I think it's the most wonderful thing for people of Halton to choose me. To win the popular vote means a lot to me."

Faye Jones, aged 21, of Widnes came second, Ashley McKeeve, aged 19, of Wigan was third, Katie McDonough, aged 21, of Widnes, came fourth and Nikkita Falconer, aged 17, of Runcorn, was fifth.