Published: 17:00, 08 August 2019
| Updated: 09:06, 09 August 2019
A former Miss Faversham says age is just a number after winning an international beauty contest three decades after she was crowned the town’s queen.
Sonja Wilson, 51, was just 20 when she celebrated victory in the search for a young woman to represent Faversham.
And now, 31 years on, she is celebrating again after winning her category in the Regency International Pageant in Las Vegas, which is contested by women from across the globe.
She shared the limelight with her daughter Sofia Mayers, 20, who also won her class.
But it all started as a “bit of fun” for Sonja, who had not long left the former Lady Capel School for Girls in London Road when she entered Miss Faversham in 1988.
“It was really popular in the 1980s,” she said. “As young girls we all aspired to be Miss Faversham, so when I was crowned I was absolutely delighted.
“I had stepped away from the pageants until now. Sofia started getting into them when she was 14, and I was the mum who held the coats and helped to do the hair.
“I found it was so lovely to be part of that again, and even when Sofia found a pageant that took older ladies I thought ‘I can’t do that’ - but then I thought, do you know what, I could.”
The pair first scooped top prizes here in the UK, with Sonja bagging the Classic Diamond title and Sofia Miss Diamond at the Miss Diamond UK championships.
The victories earned them entry to the Regency International Pageant, where Sofia won the main title and Sonja the classic category.
It means next year they will be taking to the catwalk during New York Fashion Week.
But what is the secret for Sonja’s youthful good looks? She says there’s no secret cream, and insists she’s had no cosmetic work done, simply putting it down to looking after herself.
“I would say you’re only as young, or as old, as you feel,” she says.
“At 51, I’m winning international beauty pageants, I’m walking in New York Fashion Week, so it just goes to show that actually age is just a number.
“I have got a zest for life - you only live once, so live it to the full.
"I look after myself because at the end of the day your body is a machine, so I take care of it and promote good health, and good mental health - because a healthy mind is a healthy body.
“I probably wouldn’t have any work done in the future as I’m a bit of a coward and I don’t like needles or anything like that.”
For Sofia, it was her mum’s success in the 1980s that inspired her to become involved in the world of pageanting
She said: “I really aspired to be Miss Faversham one day - my mum has done so many different things and I wanted to be able to do that.
“I found there wasn’t really that many options when I was younger for girls to do that kind of thing. When I discovered all the beauty pageants out there I really wanted to be a part of it - it isn’t just about what you look like, it’s not about the dresses, it’s about the person you are, and the charity and community work you do. My day job is actually quite different - most people think ‘oh, you’re a beauty queen, I bet you’ve got a really glamorous job’, but I’m actually a tattoo apprentice at Inkspiration Tattoo Studio in Faversham - and people are quite shocked when I say that.”