A dance teacher from South Shields has been selected to represent Europe at the Mr Gay World competition.

Stuart Hatton, a 28-year-old dance school co-principal, was crowned Mr Gay UK last year, and came third in the Mr Gay Europe contest in June.

He was hand-chosen by the organisers of Mr Gay World to represent Europe, and is clearly proud of this, saying: “They said they’d been really impressed with me at Europe, and I think it’s because, even though I didn’t win overall, I won the most individual challenges”, he told the Shields Gazette.

Hatton also spoke of his excitement about the competition, which takes place from August 24 to September 1 in Rome.

He said: “There are people from 32 countries taking part, and some of the guys from Mr Gay Europe are going to be there too, and it’ll be so lovely to see them again.

“Winning would be absolutely amazing, but I can’t even get my head around the idea just yet. Being chosen to represent not only my country, but the whole of Europe is such a huge achievement, and I just can’t believe it’s happening.”

“I’m just a boy from South Shields, and I’m just proud to represent my home town, but then I realise it’s also the country, and the whole of Europe. I just hope I can do everyone proud.”

The contestants will be tested on their knowledge of gay rights and equality issues, complete a written test, take part in modelling rounds and even complete an art challenge in pursuit of the international crown.

Hatton said: “If you win Mr Gay World, you become a representative for the whole of the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community, and that’s a very important role.”

Vote online for Mr Gay World at www.mrgayworld.com/vote.