A runway queen who dubs herself "The Style Crone" has amassed 50,000 Instagram followers and recently took New York Fashion Week by storm when she captivated audiences modeling trendsetting designs – despite being 76!
Now a leading "granfluencer," former psychiatric nurse Judith Boyd, a widow with three children and eight grandchildren, prides herself on her ageless style.
But, an avid campaigner against ageism, she calls herself a "crone" in a blog she has been writing for a decade, saying she uses the word to celebrate rather than denigrate older woman.
“Crone used to be a positive description of an older woman, who would have been celebrated in traditional cultures, but today it is used to describe an 'ugly old woman,'" Judith said. “I want to change that and raise awareness of the original meaning of the word, to help celebrate older women. Ageism divides the generations, which is bad for both younger and older people, and I think, as a mature woman, it's never been more important to be out there and visible and talking to people of all ages, which is what I do."
Judith showcasing her look (Daniel Nolan Photography/PA Real Life)
But, while Judith's effortless grace makes her look like she has been strutting down catwalks all her life, she modeled for the first time only a few years ago, when she was 72.
“I joined a modeling agency a couple of years ago," she said “I've done a jewelry ad campaign and I've walked on the runway for a Denver designer, opening their show during New York Fashion Week earlier this year," she said. "It just goes to show it is never too late."
Judith posing on a park bench (Daniel Nolan Photography/PA Real Life)
Born in 1943 into a farming family in rural Minnesota, and growing up with three brothers with no one giving two hoots about style, she regarded her single aunts, who had good jobs in the city, as the epitome of glamour.
“I loved dressing up from a young age, although there was no focus on style in my immediate family," she said. “I remember having a number of aunts who worked in the city. They were secretaries and teachers and I thought they were very stylish. Back then, you could not teach and be married, so the ones that were teachers must have been single and I did think they were very glamorous."
At 18, Judith left the farm to start her nursing training in Minneapolis.
“I loved being away from home," she recalled. “It was a very sophisticated city with lots of theatre, music and art, so it was my introduction to a bigger world."
Judith boasts over 50,000 followers on Instagram (Daniel Nolan Photography/PA Real Life)
It was also where Judith started to develop her unique sense of style and her passion for vintage clothes, especially hats.
“I was working as a psychiatric nurse in the emergency department of a large hospital, so my day was filled with talking to people who were traumatized, suicidal, homicidal and psychotic," she said. “They would be in the middle of the biggest crisis of their lives and I found I was good at talking to them, because I was empathetic."
Judith only began modeling later on in life (Nicole Marcelli Photography/PA Real Life)
“I would think about what to wear to work in the morning, because I no longer had to wear a nursing uniform and, in a way, my clothes prepared me for the day," she continued. "They allowed me to express myself and I know my patients appreciated that in their day too."
Having married when she was 23, in 1975 Judith parted from her first husband and the father of her eldest children, Troy and Tania.
Moving to Denver, 900 miles away in Colorado to be closer to friends, two years later in 1977 she met Nelson, who she married in 1980. The father of her third child, Camille, he loved hats, and, like Judith, was innately stylish.
“Nelson was a very charismatic introvert," she said. “He was very, very stylish and always wore a hat. When I started blogging, he was my first photographer."
Describing their union as a “magical relationship," she was devastated when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, and was taken from her in 2011, just nine months after they launched her style blog, which she says helped her to keep going after his death.
“I carried on blogging to honor Nelson. When he died, it was so hard to think about going on without him, but the blog helped," she said.
Judith and Nelson (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I blogged throughout the time he was dying. He would have a chemotherapy appointment and I would decide what to wear and then write a blog about what you wear to go to chemotherapy with your dying husband," she continued. “Nelson would take the photos when we were alone together, before his treatment started, so he really helped me lay the foundations for the life I have now and my reinvention of myself after his death."
Another person who helped Judith adjust to life without Nelson was her youngest daughter Camille, who introduced her to yoga.
Judith and Nelson (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I went along to a class and really struggled through it," said Judith, who now attends four hot dynamic yoga classes a week. “I realized when Nelson died that there are things that happen that we cannot control in our lives, but there are also things like what we wear, what we eat and whether we exercise or not, which we do choose."
Now an avid campaigner against ageism, Judith hopes that her blog and her positive attitude to life in her 70s, will inspire other women to realize that age is just a number.
“I've just started a new project working with widows where I combine my mental health background with my style in telling the story of my own loss and reinvention and I hope that helps inspire others," she said.
And by continuing with her blogging and Instagram she feels she has found a way of keeping the love story she shared with Nelson alive.
“I have had some very positive responses and the modeling has been wonderful," she said.
Judith calls herself 'The Style Crone' (Nicole Marcelli Photography/PA Real Life)
“It really was a way to lighten up a devastating experience, Nelson would have supported it completely."