HADDA MAKES HISTORY IN BERLIN – But don’t mention the Cola to her

Hadda Haye tours Vauxhall Motors in Luton

Hadda Haye tours Vauxhall Motors in Luton

Hadda Haye (right) on the evening she won the Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth title. She is seen with future deputy Ruby Palmer (left) and Elaine Maxham (centre) who qualified a record five times to compete in the final

By Clayton Goodwin

Hadda Haye, then barely 19 years-old, made history when she crossed the celebrated Checkpoint Charlie barrier into East Berlin in the summer of 1985. At the time Europe, and, indeed, the world, was divided into two hostile sections of the Cold War by a wall which ran through the heart of Berlin. The East/Communist part did not go in for beauty contests and Hadda, the reigning Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth, must have been one of the first beauty queens, and almost certainly the first from the UK Caribbean and Commonwealth communities, to go beyond the notorious Berlin Wall. Her visit to the city was hosted by Mr Karl-Heinz Milferstaedt, as representative of the Spandau borough council in the West (with which her home-town, Luton, had a twinning partnership), and her trip to the East was arranged by Mr Cameron of the British Embassy. Amenities in the latter, though not the hospitality, lagged much behind those of its counterpart.

It was an exceptionally hot day, and Hadda realised the extent of her achievement as she stood in no-man’s-land between the conflicting halves of the city. If a world/European war had been declared then she would have been right in the middle of it. A few weeks later she accompanied her deputy, Georgia Robinson, on a trip to the Netherlands. It was the start of the Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth’s long association with that county. Although Ms Haye concluded her reign with the more traditional visits to Barbados and Jamaica, it was the break-through in Europe that set the landmark.

Hadda had made a dramatic entry into UK beauty contests in 1984. She arrived from Jamaica, where she had been Miss St Elizabeth, just in time to qualify for the last of the several preliminary heats, which was held on a rainy autumnal evening at the Shady Grove club in Tottenham, North London. Such was the impact of her victory that the question “Who can stop Hadda winning the final?” was raised – and soon answered – nobody could. In a competition of unusually high standard Ms Haye won the final two months later at Spots Club in the Podium, Vauxhall, South London, promoted by Spencer Williams and Trevor Russell. Her sister, Marleen, had been deputy to Lucia Charlery, the outgoing title-holder. The first/second record of the Charlery (whose Karen was later twice deputy) and Haye sisters has not been matched.  

Hadda was received by the Jamaican High Commissioner and the Mayor Luton. Her promoter did not apply for the usual reception by her Member of Parliament on account of his speeches in support for the apartheid-regime in South Africa. Her schedule of appearances included a tour of the Vauxhall Motor works at Luton and lunch with the directors. Although she cherishes the memories of her reign, Hadda did  admit to Caribcommx about one slight blemish: “That drink in East Berlin – it was the worst cola I have ever tasted”.

It was but a slight price for making history.

And Hadda agrees.

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