WHILE 16 women were stealing the hearts of judges, a thief snuck into the changing rooms to steal cash.

Margaret Ann Brown, a 23-year-old telephonist from Millbrook, competed with 15 other ladies at the Top Rank Suite on April 10, 1969.

Margaret was on cloud nine after winning the regional heat in Southampton –she had been given the opportunity to move forward to the grand final in Morecambe with the prospect of winning £6,9000 in cash and prizes.

"I just don't know what to say," Margaret said. "I've been in quite a few beauty contests but I never won before.

"I fell like kissing you all."

However, her joy was shortlived as she learned a robbery had taken place while being declared winner.

A thief had snuck into the dressing rooms at the Top Rank Suite, and took a 10s note from her purse.

"Four pennies and an expensive bottle of perfume were left in my bag," Margaret told the Echo shortly after the incident occurred.