ASHENA BECOMES 26th MISS CARIBBEAN & COMMONWEALTH – Evening of Spectacle and Panache is credit to director Shirley de Lawrence and her team

By Clayton Goodwin

Ashena Green – 26th Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth

Shirley de Lawrence – Director of Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth

Ashena Green, a 23 years-old student, representing Jamaica became the 26th Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth title-holder in an evening of spectacle and action at the Rock Tower, Tufnell Park, London. She impressed the judges particularly with her appearance, her personality, and a spectacular national-dress display. Priscilla Nantongo, 21 years-old, and Shaneen Angeles, 30 years-old, representing Uganda and Guyana respectively, were voted second and third. The new Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth was crowned by her predecessor, Reyne Kazooka, who had won her title, representing Uganda, at the same venue a year earlier. The evening was a triumph for director Shirley de Lawrence, herself a former holder of the title, and her team comprising Minnie Germain, project manager, and Anna Myers, Belo, co-ordinator and accounts, and their associates.

Beverley Heath-Hoyland, former top model and beauty and currently successful art-estate manager, who is the official patron of Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth, headed the panel of judges, which included in Margarette Alcindor, Dr Shaherah Jordan, and Nicole Afolabi, three former holders of the title. Margarette was the first African to win the crown. They were joined by Fumi Desalu-Vold, super-model actress, television host and presenter, Victoria Inglis – newly-crowned Miss Philippines UK, Jose Hendo, eco-sustainable designer-artist, Aurea Reis, author and motivational speaker, and Michael Burgess, leader in programme and business development. Gagafierce, otherwise known as Mima Ewurama Smith, hosted the show with dynamism and humour.

The spectacle and panache of the show recalled the early days of Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth when the title was presented with the assistance of club-promoters Spencer Williams and Trevor Russell at Spots Club at the Podium, Vauxhall, south-west London, then the most fashionable and popular venue. At the same time, it retained the harmony and friendliness for which the title has always been renowned. The links with tradition were maintained by the introduction on stage of former winners of the crown and by its own unique judging system. The criterion of “good looks, pleasant personality, and knowing how to behave” still seems to apply – with innovations in a nod to pageantry.

In her own stage appearance, and general direction of the show, Shirley de Lawrence demonstrated why she, herself, had been such an outstanding Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth. The Rock Tower abounded in beauty with guest queens / directors of pageants at Miss Philippines, Miss Ghana UK, Miss Uganda UK, Miss Ebony UK, Miss Pride of Africa UK, Miss Caribbean UK, Miss Teen Nigeria UK and Miss Asia UK, and an audience dominated by the young and beautiful generation. Jacqueline Matovu, director of Miss Uganda UK, and Felicia Benjamin, then promoter of Miss Guyana UK, have a long association with Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth. Anna Myers Belo of the present team and Jacqueline have been previous co-ordinators of the competition as well as, themselves, being contestants during the promotional time of Clayton Goodwin, the founder of the title, who was present after having missed last year’s show through illness.

In the days immediately following her victory Ashena was a guest at a private exhibition by artist Karla Cornwall at the Trinidad & Tobago High Commission and attended the Commonwealth Business Awards at the Houses of Parliament.

Further photographs and additions to be made

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