TALENT: Burnley tot in top American beauty pageant

Tia Neve Wilkinson beauty queen

Tia Neve Wilkinson beauty queen

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A TALENTED little Burnley girl has “catwalked’’ her way into the finals of a top American beauty pageant.

And not only will Tia Neve Wilkinson be representing Europe in the Little Miss Perfect Pageant in Orlando, Florida, she is believed to be one of the youngest children ever from the UK to compete in the States.

Tia’s proud mum, Beki Wilkinson, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Tia. It hasn’t sunk in yet but I am so proud of her.

“She doesn’t fully understand what it means about going to America but she is very excited.’’

Tia, who will be four next month, swept the board at the Europe Citrus Pageant last weekend in Wales, beating off stiff competition to be crowned Europe’s Mini Miss 
Citrus and earning her place in the American show.

Tia wowed the judges with her cheerleading skills and her bubbly personality in the fashion section when she dressed up as the Statue of Liberty and Rainbow Brite.

Tia already has a collection of trophies and tiaras after scooping a host of awards from the 14 
competitions she has entered over the last 18 months. Beki, of Higher Tentre, explained: “We went all out and got new costumes for Tia for this latest show because it was such a big event. It was worth it.

“Now it is all systems go with fund-raising for the America trip. I have joined forces with the mum of another girl who will be competing along with Tia.’’

Beki recently hit back at critics who claimed the competitions “over-sexualise’’ youngsters. She said the contests were all about the children having fun, dressing up and enjoying themselves in a safe and protected atmosphere where only friends and family are admitted to watch them compete. Beki admitted that the harsh criticism had been very hurtful at times.

She added: “I don’t care what people say about me, but when they start to say things about Tia that is a different matter. The important thing is that she enjoys taking part in the 
pageants, she loves being on stage and dressing 
up. It comes naturally 
to her and I don’t force her to do 
it.

“After all that criticism of the pageants I seriously thought about stopping, but then someone pointed out to me that Tia would lose something that she loves doing and that is not fair on her.’’