Sandra recalls day as Miss Bogside 1983

Children pictured at a fancy dress competition. Included is  Miss Bogside 1983.
Children pictured at a fancy dress competition. Included is Miss Bogside 1983.
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For just one day in the early 1970s Derry woman Sandra Wheeldon donned a pink swimsuit, a cardboard crown, long socks and some of her mammy’s make up and earned herself the title of Miss Bogside 1983.

A photograph capturing that glorious moment appeared in the Derry Journal on Friday of last week as part of our ongoing focus on the Bt Portrait of a City project.

Sandra, complete in her beauty queen get up, was pictured alongside other contestants in the fancy dress competition by local man Billy Houston, who has donated his photographic collection to Portrait of a City.

It was, of course, all in good fun as part of a fancy dress costume - and part of an ongoing joke between Sandra - then six or seven - and her big sister Donna.

“I was Donna’s baby sister. She would have been around 10 or 11 then and she used to love to dress me up and treat me like her wee doll,” Sandra explained.

“She had great hopes for me. She joked that I would be Miss Bogside 1983 - which was the year in which I would turn 18.”

Sandra reckons the picture was taken in either 1973 or 1974 - when the Troubles were flaring in the city.

“We lived in Drumcliff Avenue in the Bogside and I remember the event really bringing the community together when things were quite tough.

“It was a lovely day - I wouldn’t have been out in my swimsuit if it wasn’t!” she laughed.

Now married with one son, Sandra said she never did wear the Miss Bogside crown for real, but she has no regrets!