Published: 10:00, 15 May 2013
A teenage girl is hoping to make a splash with a job she thinks she's maid for - as Britain's first professional mermaid.
Sophie Elphick, from the Isle of Sheppey, has grown up with a love of the sea and swimming.
When the 16-year-old discovered it is possible to make a career out of performing as one of the water fairies, she knew it would be her dream job.
She researched and her inspiration has become Hannah Fraser – an Australian who now makes her living as an underwater mermaid performer in America.
Sophie, of Melody Close, Warden, discovered via Hannah's website that American Eric Ducharme, known as the 'Mertailor', creates made-to-measure tails.
She received the £380 accessory as her Christmas present last year and - after having her first photoshoot on Warden and Leysdown beaches - she is now waiting to be hired.
Sophie says she is available for films, TV, photoshoots, promotional work and charity events.
The tail is made of latex and has a coating similar to a wet-suit over the top.
Inside it has a monofin - like a pair of flippers joined together - to allow swift movement through the water.
The Isle of Sheppey Academy pupil's mother Mel said she is being realistic about her daughter's hobby - but hopes by getting in early in the UK, she could become one of the first.
Sheppey schoolgirl Sophie Elphick is following an unusual career path... as a professional mermaid.
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The hairdresser said: "She fell in love with the idea and was so dead set on it I said I would support her 100% and do whatever I can to get her out there.
"It's huge in America and you never know, there might be a company here that sees her and says 'that’s what we want'.
"As a mum you have to be realistic, but if it comes off it comes off.
"She was down at Warden Bay on Bank Holiday Monday and the children thought she was a real mermaid – it was so lovely to see their faces."
Sophie says she has had a lot of support from family and friends – particularly brother Sam and boyfriend Oli Edwards who have been carrying her to her photoshoots – as she cannot walk with the tail on.
Sophie said: "I have always loved mermaids. My tail is everything I hope it would be and more - it looks realistic."
To find out more about Sophie, visit www.mermaidsophielouise.webs.com.
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