A DANCE teacher from South Shields bidding to be named Mr Gay Europe had to settle for third place.
Stuart Hatton, representing the UK in the contest, said he has been overwhelmed by the support he was given by people in his home town.
The 28-year-old, co-principal at his family’s dance studio, the Hatton Academy of Dance, in Commercial Road, South Shields, was crowned Mr Gay UK last year.
After winning the title, Stuart was asked to represent the nation in the Mr Gay Europe final in Zurich, Switzerland.
Stuart said: “It was such an amazing experience. Everyone just clicked immediately, and we all got on so well.
“We really did make some lifelong friends. We’re going to have a reunion next year.” Stuart won an internet vote, a public vote, and the congeniality round, but the contest was won overall by Mr Gay Sweden, Jack Johansson.
South Tyneside Council showed its support by installing an electronic sign, displaying the message ‘vote Stuart Hatton for Mr Gay Europe’, near White Mare Pool roundabout, on the edge of the borough.
Stuart said: “When I found out about that sign, I cried.
“I told the others, and they said their countries would never have done that for them.
“Knowing I had that kind of support back home was an amazing feeling, and I want to thank everyone.
“I felt proud to represent the UK. It was such a huge opportunity, and I’ll never forget it.”