“Beauty Queen of old Ceylon”
by Desmond Kelly ‘the Star of eLanka’
It was 1950. Number 10 Lorensz Road, Bambalapitiya, Ceylon, to be exact. There, lived a girl by the name of “Neliya”or Maureen Hingert, as EVERYONE came to know her, just six years later.
Neliya would have been only 13 years old when my own family moved into Number 38, Lorensz Road, that same year, I was 14, going on 15, promptly fell in love with the already blossoming beauty, actually had to “fight” her eldest brother to prove (to him) that I was worthy of courting her.This happened on a little patch of grassland at the rear end of Lorensz Road, where he gave me a “black-eye” & , in return, I presented him with a rather severe ear-ache. After that, we became friends & Neliya and I began “seeing” each other fairly regularly. It was “puppy-love”, of course.
We were both “puppies”, still, since both of her parents, Lorna & Leslie Hingert were very strict with their beautiful daughter, Neliya used to “share” all her secrets with me. I was more than happy with the situation, “cutting classes” at the end of each school day, at St.Peter’s College, meeting her (after school) at the Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya and “helping” her to carry those heavy exercise books home, via the sandy beach of the Indian Ocean. If ever I had any extra money, Neliya & I would go down to an ice-cream parlour by the name of “Alericks”and I still remember that, like me, she loved the “milk-shakes” they made there. If I had a little extra money we would have some ice-cream too.
The years passed by. Neliya & I were still very good friends. She was getting more beautiful by the minute and now started taking “dancing lessons”in the Sinhalese “Classic” style. I believe that she mastered this also, but was rather busy myself, running away from St.Peter’s College & home in 1952, to join an English Circus Group that began to “tour” the Island for about 6 months.
Finished the tour, it was 1953 by now, no money to buy Neliya even ice-cream at the time so I then joined the Royal Ceylon Navy & before we knew it, it was 1955 & Neliya, now officially known as Maureen, became “Miss Ceylon” & deservedly so, with the chance to go to America in 1956 to take part in the “Miss Universe” quest over there. I do remember that she came to me with the good news and actually wanted me to go along with her, on the biggest boost of her career, but I had to refuse due to the fact that I had already signed a 12 year contract with the R.Cy.N. and didn’t want the Ceylon Military Police coming after me to “drag” me back into the Navy.
Everyone in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, knows what happened next. Maureen Hingert became the 2nd runner-up, to Miss Sweden, in the “Miss Universe” Contest of 1956, & fully deserved all the plaudits & prizes that went with it. She was the first “beauty” to put Ceylon “on the map”& the girl I wrote “Dream-World” for,has just turned 80 and lives in California, U.S.A. There was a lot of rubbish written about her on the Internet by some “blogger”who obviously did not know what he was talking (or blogging about). The above story (told only in minute detail), is the TRUE one.
The reason as to why I write this is simply because it is now exactly sixty two (62) years since Maureen (Neliya) Hingert was judged the 3rd MOST BEAUTIFUL girl the Universe and that all Sri Lankans should be very proud indeed of this “Beauty Queen of old Ceylon”.
Star of eLanka.