Pembroke contestant Leighanne Charles, 27, has been crowned Miss Tobago Heritage Personality 2022.
Charles took the crown on Saturday evening in the 35th edition of the event at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex.
The competition, which was sponsored by First Citizens in collaboration with the Tobago Festivals Commission Ltd (TFCL), featured seven contestants.
After receiving her crown from 2021 winner Janae Campbell, Charles, a dancer with the Tobago Performing Arts Company (TPAC), told Newsday, “I feel a flutter. I feel electricity rolling through my body as they called the results. I feel amazing, I feel a bit overwhelmed by the love and support from my co-workers, family and friends, especially villagers.”
She said the win came as no surprise to her.
“I was confident before as I did have a lot of pressure from those persons from my community, I was also confident knowing that my intentions were pure – after every segment I felt good.”
This win, she said, is not a personal achievement.
“I did it for my late grandmother, she died on April 28. She is now a part of the ancestral linkage Pembroke, she was a Tobago traditional dancer. This also is a win for the village of Pembroke.”
She also captured the awards of Miss Intelligent, Best Talent as well as Best Gown Portrayal.
To her fellow competitors, she said: “You all did amazing. I love you guys, you all are like my sisters, we had a lot of fun, you all are queens so a title doesn’t really matter. Go forward with your future endeavours, shine and continue to make Tobago proud.”
To others who might be thinking of entering the pageant in the future, she encouraged them to give it a shot.
“Go for it; go into the competition knowing that you would learn things because there are programmes set up for young ladies to better equip themselves holistically. There are financial seminars, there are communication seminars, there are oral tradition seminars and according to who the committee is, next year you may have a lot of different programmes coming out of it.
“Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid to show Tobago who you are, what you have, what talent you possess, because we would never know if you don’t come forward. Using this platform, I wish that all young ladies would allow themselves to note that they are queens, they are God’s gift, they have God-given talents and Tobago needs them.
For her victory, she will receive $10,000 and $25,000 towards a community project sponsored by First Citizens.
In second place was Goodwood Police Youth Club’s Rebecca Bobb, while Sisters in Culture’s Shamika Denoon came in third.
Other special prizes were awarded to Buccoo’s Ayesha Nichols (My village project) and Mt St George Village Council’s Kekoa Butcher (Miss Amity). Best Designer was awarded to Sharon Phillips who was the designer for Goodwood Police Youth Club’s Rebecca Bobb.
First Citizen’s Canaan Bank Manager Tanelle Harrilal, in a pre-recorded address, said she was delighted that the event has returned to an in-person audience.
“We can reflect on 33 enjoyable and rewarding years – from experiencing the event staged in both town and country, witnessing shy entrants turned into confident contenders, developing a strong network of support within the communities and the commission and seeing some surprise wins over the years. First Citizens has been there through it all.”
She said the bank will contribute towards a community project for the winner.
“We are proud to contribute to the show’s rebirth by presenting the winner with a prize from which her entire community can benefit. The first-time community-based prize will allow our 2022 Tobago Heritage Personality to utilise her winnings to implement a project under one of our five pillars under our corporate social responsibility programme. That is an initiative based on either the environment, sport, youth development and education, gender or culture.”
TFCL’s CEO John Arnold reflected on this year’s heritage theme, Reflect, Rebirth, Rejoice: Reigniting the Flames Of Our Legacy. He said the creative sector was the hardest hit during the last two years of the covid19 pandemic.
“One can only imagine that this year all the heritage festival events are geared towards reigniting and establishing those flames that are on the embers that have laid low for the past two or three years of the pandemic. We are excited this year for the Tobago Heritage Festival as we start to rebuild and to obviously put some fresh, new, innovative ideas into what we can do with the festival in the future.”