NATASHA Martindale had never dreamed of taking things this far! But now that she has reached new horizons in pageantry, the Miss World Guyana franchise holder says turning back is not an option, despite the grave challenges of lack of sponsorship and her venturing into a whole new world on the other side from home with little to work with and less than enough in pocket!Being the first pageant franchise holder to have reaped back-to-back successes, with queens advancing into the spotlight at Miss World, the longest-standing pageant of international prestige, and excelling at it against the tests, she stands to declare that, though it wasn’t easy, it was indeed worth it.
Sticking through for both queen and director hangs on purpose and will of Miss World, a will which instigates and motivates the ‘beauty with a purpose’ and ‘the challenge’ to be a woman of allure and greatness, and one pushed to higher levels in life’s climb.
Martindale believes that though all three of her queens have done well, with Boyer also being in the top 32 in 2013, the most important challenge of Miss Guyana World has been sponsorship. She wonders if she is doing the right things to secure sponsorship for her queens, since, despite some efforts, the organisation struggles for the financial support that is needed to build delegate confidence. Still, the girls rise.
“It is nerve-shattering,” Martindale said, “when you have a promising ambassador for the country but her confidence is shot because of lack of sponsorship — which gives way to poor styling, watered-down versions of the plan or concept created, insufficient wardrobe for the amount of time at the pageant; not enough [of] anything.”
She also said that “travelling long hours in stressful economy at a time when the mind needs to prepare mentally to battle; when a sponsor commits and pulls out last minute, or fails to return your calls, that tells on the representative, as it is she who wears the flag of her country and is the face of all of us”.
Martindale recalled that, in 2013, when Ruqayyah Boyer represented Guyana, she had to assure the Queen that she could do it despite the odds.
“I remember telling Ruqayyah in 2013 not to worry, you will get to Indonesia even if it’s with one shirt and a pants.” And as two additional years and queens have come and gone, she said,
“That is the reality and nightmare that is relived year over year”.
She said she is responsible for submitting to the Miss World Organisation at least three major local sponsors showing country support for Miss Guyana.
“I am yet to attain this, but I am hopeful that it will get better,” she disclosed.
She said there is a particular thing about Miss World, reflected even through Miss Guyana World, which should erase doubts about where a sponsor’s money adds value. “Miss World is a pageant that is of purpose and substance. It caters to young women who are well rounded and, most importantly, genuinely cares about the less fortunate, especially children,” she explained. Its ‘beauty with a purpose’ campaign is an outstanding component of the contest, with participating queens from various countries being encouraged and supported through a campaign of worth.
She said: “It is the ethos of the Miss World Pageant which separates it from the rest.”
As pageant director, Martindale plays a great part in ‘beauty with a purpose’, and is the one who spearheads the platform crusade, for which 40 per cent of the Miss World Organisation score is allotted.
“It is important because Miss World is looking for the core of a young woman who has chosen to use her skills, talent or time towards making a difference in the lives of those who are troubled, those who are less fortunate,” she explained.
Issues which affect women, children and youths are being addressed at the Miss World Pageant. “She must be a voice for those who can’t speak, and it has to be genuine. It must be a combined sincere effort of the franchise and the titleholder, and it must make a tremendous impact on the country. It must also be something with continuity…. Lisa can’t return and forget all about prevention of teenage suicide.”
Martindale’s desire and responsibility is to ensure that all three of her queens – Ruqayyah Boyer, Rafieya Hussain and Lisa Punch — continue their purpose.
Excellence in the purpose was what fast tracked Rafieya into the top ten in Miss World in 2014. She was the queen with the most influential campaign. In 2015, Miss Guyana World’s, Lisa Punch’s, victory in the Talent Competition made her the more exceptional queen and shot her into the top 25; and with additional scores in other levels of the competition, she eventually placed in the top ten.
“Having placed in the top 10 in Miss World back-to-back is an impactful achievement as well as impressive,” she said, adding “Ruqayyah started with domestic violence; Rafieya came in and continued it from a teen-dating perspective; Lisa came up with teenage suicide prevention. I can’t wait to see what next year’s queen will bring.”
Each delegate in Miss Guyana World is given the liberty to select her “purpose,” and the delegate who wins the local pageant will have the opportunity of having her vision brought to light, giving her a voice, and helping to make her platform a reality.
By Shauna Jemmott