SHIRLEY DE LAWRENCE: I picked the unlucky number but the Title opened doors for me

Shirley De Lawrence was in conversation with Caribcommx

The Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth title is up-and-running again, and judged by the interest on social media it is already reviving fond memories of the past and excitement for its future. New promoter, Shirley de Lawrence, who took over the reins when founder Clayton Goodwin had to step down for medical reasons, has been held back until now by the restrictions of the pandemic. Now, ready to stamp her own imprint on the promotion, she took time off from her intense schedule to tell Caribcommx readers about herself, her time as title-holder, and her plans for this year.

Over to Shirley who was born in Ghana, came to the UK as a schoolgirl, and lives now in East London.

Please Shirley, can you tell us something about yourself and your career?

My name is Shirley De Lawrence. I am the 19th Miss Caribbean and Commonwealth. I work with various brands as a digital Marketer and content creator and am also the Editor of the Luxury Publication Uzuri Magazine.

Why did you want to take over the promotion of Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth?

It is because I am a part of the legacy of the Miss Caribbean and Commonwealth organisation, and therefore, would like to see that legacy continue. Also, as a former title-holder, I have seen what I have been able to do and achieve with the title and would like to offer that opportunity to other women/girls.

What do you remember of the night you won the title?

I picked the unlucky number 13 in the parade much to the amusement of the audience. I remember coming out on the stage and seeing the judges who were mostly previous title-holders and thinking that I would like to be there one day. Then there was my speech. When contestant number 13 was called out as the winner I was still sitting in the dressing room until all the girls started screaming that I had won. 

What were the highlights of your reign?

Both the Ghana High Commission, and the Mayor of Newham received me at their official chambers and congratulated me warmly on my achievement. Since I was still at the University of Kent at the time, I was especially thrilled to be invited to watch Gillingham F.C. play. Sitting in class at university, I was interested and amused on seeing other students check if I was the one in the various local newspaper.   

What did the title mean to you?

It has meant different things to me at different stages of my life. When I won, I did a lot with the Title. I was able to go places and meet people – which opened a lot of doors for me. However, I always tell girls aspiring to hold the Title that “it is not what the Title does for you, it is what you do with the Title”. As I am getting older the Title means a lot more to me in that, it is a part of who I am. I will always be the 19th Miss Caribbean and Commonwealth and will also have a shared history with former title holders and participants. 

Do you keep in touch with the other previous title-holders?

Thanks to social media, I am in contact with a lot of the previous winners. We have met up over the years and shared our individual stories of our reign. We all continue to play a big part in the contest, and I hope it continues under my promotion.

How much do you value the co-operation of other promoters?

I am a newbie when it comes to promoting so I see co-operating with other promoters as essential. It is rather a shame that there aren’t a lot of promoters around anymore but I intend reaching out to those we have a history with to see how we can work together.

What type of contestants are you seeking for this year?

The beauty about Miss Caribbean and Commonwealth is the diverse nature of all previous winners. Apart from seeking girls/women who are honest, dignified, and able to represent themselves and the contest at various functions, we don’t put any particular restrictions on the type of person who can enter the competition. 

The former title-holders on the leaflet seem to be representative of the Commonwealth’s cultural diversity – which countries did they represent?

On our current promotional leaflets, we have Karola Rajoo, the 21st Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth, who represented Trinidad & Tobago. Just to add that I bumped into Karola a few months ago on my way to Portugal which was such a lovely coincidence. We also have Yolanda Gqomo, the 22nd Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth, who represented South Africa, Nicole Wallace, the 24th Miss Caribbean and Commonwealth, who represented Jamaica, and myself  who represented Ghana. Its perfect combination of the African and Caribbean countries.

How can prospective contestants – and others who wish to help – get in contact with you?

Prospective contestants can apply using the online application form or by emailing us at apply@misscaribbeanandcommonwealth.com. Anyone looking to be a part of the organisation team can email me directly to shirley@misscaribbeanandcommonwealth.com.

Thank you, Shirley. We can’t wait for you to give us the date and venue of this year’s contest. 

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