THIS IS AN UPDATED VERSION OF THE PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED STORY.
High praises are being extended to those who ensured the new Miss World, Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh, made it to London after several problems that threatened to stop the 23-year-old from making it to the pageant.
Nationwide News is today learning the back story of how Toni-Ann nearly didn’t make it to London in time.
In the midst of a financial crunch and several hurdles, the resilient Singh arrived and made history by winning the title on Saturday; 26 years after Jamaica last won Miss World.
Jamaica’s last title was in 1993, when now Member of Parliament, Lisa Hanna took home the crown.
Tauna Thomas has the story of the hurdles Toni-Ann had to overcome.
The name Toni-Ann Singh has been on the lips of Jamaicans since Saturday.
The 23-year-old wowed the crowd with her rendition of Whitney Houston’s ‘I have nothing’ and her delivery during the question and answer segments.
But before appearing on the world stage watched by a global television audience of almost 2-billion, to represent Jamaica in such fine style, Toni-Ann encountered several problems.
Her father, Bradshaw, revealed to Nationwide’s Cliff Hughes this morning, that it was a rocky road getting his daughter to London.
She almost didn’t make it to the United Kingdom in time for the start of the month-long competition.
Nationwide News has learned that the local organizers of the Miss Jamaica World pageant were strapped for cash and other resources.
They had few commercial sponsors.
This resulted in difficulties providing the resources Toni-Ann needed to head to London to face 110-competitors for the coveted and prestigious title of Miss World.
For example, the gown she wore on the final night didn’t travel with her to London.
Nationwide learned the dress for Toni-Ann’s evening gown parade nearly didn’t make it. It took the ingenuity of a core group in Olivia Grange’s Culture Ministry to get it to her on time.
The group traveled to Norman Manley International airport in search of a willing passenger bound for London after it became clear that it was too late to send it via air cargo.
They found that Jamaican passengers and with the use of What’s App technology connected the passenger with Toni-Ann.
That’s how the gown made it to London.
The videotape of her all-important Beauty With A Purpose project is still to be delivered to her.
And funds had to be raised, at the last minute, by the Jamaican High Commissioner to London, George Ramocan, and his staff, to purchase her well-needed winter outfits and boots for the competition.
The St. Thomas native traveled to London alone. She did not have a chaperone.
Toni-Ann had to struggle with six pieces of luggage. She was initially given an economy class ticket.
But she was eventually upgraded to first-class with the help of Culture Minister, Olivia Grange.
Toni-Ann’s father, Bradshaw Singh publicly thanked Minister Grange for playing a critical role in his daughter making it to the pageant.
Grange and her team also had to intervene to assist Toni-Ann in getting a visa to travel to the UK.
Co-franchise holder of the Miss Jamaica World Pageant, Dahlia Harris, tweeted about the challenges in pulling off the win.
For 2 years we have spent so much time trying to convince organisations that Miss Jamaica World is not only relevant, it has real purpose in lifting the spirit of our nation and empowering our women. I hope that after today I will never have to have that conversation again.
— Dahlia Harris (@DahliaHarris) December 15, 2019
Toni-Ann singled out Minister Grange for praise in an Instagram post after winning the crown on Saturday.
Toni-Ann’s other family members also spoke about how Jamaicans participating in the Miss World pageant can inspire others.
Her grandmother, Cecile Bailey, otherwise called ‘Mama Blacks,’ says her granddaughter’s win means others from St. Thomas where she was born, can excel too.
Toni-Ann grew up around her grandmother in Bath, St. Thomas.
The new queen’s aunt, Marlene Barham says she’s elated her niece was able to remain calm and deliver.
In more reactions, Mr. Singh says Jamaica needed this moment to again feel a sense of unity.
The proud father is also saluting Miss Nigeria who expressed immense joy on Saturday when Toni-Ann was named Miss World 2019.
Senior Strategist in the Tourism Ministry, Delano Seiveright says they’ll be collaborating with the Ministry of Culture in the welcome home activities that will be planned for Ms. Singh.
Mr. Seiveright says they’ll also be making efforts to bring Miss Nigeria to the island.
Miss Nigeria’s reaction to Jamaica copping the title has been one of the highlights from the pageant.