On a rainy, blustery, winter’s evening, Saturday 9 July, 2022, Aliyah Crowie, a 17-year-old, apprentice teaching assistant, who lives in Half Tree Hollow, became the new Miss St Helena, to enthusiastic approval of the 420-person audience seated in the hall, and also the hundreds ‘tuning in’ to the show’s live stream from afar away as the UK, Falklands and Japan.
Shanice Phillips, 18, also from Half Tree Hollow, an office assistant to the legislative council, was the first runner-up, and Kerisha Francis, 25, a trainee dental nurse, who lives in Alarm Hill was second runner-up.
Paige Williams from Longwood won the Saint FM Media Award for her video Show Reel presentation.
Nicola Essex did an excellent job hosting the show, helping contestants settle any early nerves with her relaxed, chatty style of interacting.
YEAR OF THE SHOW REELS | by Darrin Henry
As numbered during the show, here are the 12 contestants:
- Ashlie Thomas
- Paige Williams
- Charlize Henry
- Aliyah Crowie (Q)
- Camilla Thomas (Q)
- Tori-Brooke Ellick
- Tatelyn Royles
- Kayla-Jayne Brady (Q)
- Tayler Bennett
- Radka Henry
- Kerisha Francis (Q)
- Shanice Phillips (Q)
Note: Q = qualified finalist
The Precious Stones
Aliyah was ‘crowned’ with a beautiful, custom-made tiara, valued at approx $3,000 USD, donated by Walter Barshai.
The tiara was made using eco-friendly, lab-grown stones, including pearls, sapphires, emeralds and alexandrites, arranged in three heart-shaped clusters. The central heart designed in blue, yellow & white stones to represent the St Helena crest. The two outer hearts are green, to represent the island.
This is not the first time Walter has supported the Miss St Helena event – in 2020 he donated an emerald and diamond ring for the winner, Latisha Fowler.
This 2022 event centred around 12 short promotional films about St Helena, presented by each contestant, dubbed the ‘Show Reels.’
These were projected onto a specially built, large movie screen, measuring 13.5ft across to give the audience as close to a cinema experience as possible.
Here are the Show Reels, and more about how they were made later on.
Braving The Storm
For Sharon and I, this was our third and final pageant as organisers, and we couldn’t have been happier with how the evening went.
Doors opened just a few minutes after the planned 6.15pm, to the relief of those in the queue enduring some awful weather. In fact, the Bottom Woods MET station registered the lowest temperature of the week on that day, of 13.7 degrees C, and also maximum wind gusts of the week, at 44 knots.
Clasping their colour-coded tickets to indicate seating zones, wearing warm jumpers and jackets and scarves and one or two beanies, the crowd of more than 400 people scooted inside, everyone eager to secure a good seat.
By 7pm everyone was comfortably in place and we were ready to go.
Tuning In To St Helena
Sure South Atlantic Ltd, who are already wonderful sponsors and supporters of the pageant, were also live streaming the show for the third time.
Through Facebook Live, viewers across the world could join in the fun, and appreciative comments were soon being posted.
Sure also relayed a live feed to the local TV, so everyone on the island could enjoy the show from home.
Making the Big Calls
Judges for the evening were Joey George, Elsie Hughes, Derek Richards and Head Judge, Kylie Hercules, taking their seats right in front of the runway.
Choosing judges can be more of a challenge than is maybe obvious at the start of the process.
The first aim is to select judges from four different districts, if possible. Then you have to check the judges are not related or too closely connected with any of the contestants, to avoid any suggestion of bias. And of course, four people with the local credibility to apply impartiality to their deliberations.
Round 1 – Casualwear
Casualwear is always the traditional first round of the night. All 12 contestants entered the stage, lining up in front of the eight tall display panels, decorated in rose pink, gold and spruce green shapes, depicting some of the most popular visitor attractions of St Helena.
Each contestant was called forward in turn. A first venture of the night down the runway, then returning to centre stage for a chat and their first question with Compere, Nicola.
Personality questions was the theme in round one, easing the contestants into the process gently.
The audience were playing their part superbly with some noisy support. Each of the contestants had been allowed 10 VIP tickets for their special guests, and these were all seated alongside the runway for maximum fan support.
The Miss St Helena Show Reels
The second round we called, Show Reels, and was something completely new for the Miss St Helena competition.
Each contestant had been challenged to choose a place or feature of St Helena to promote in a 90-second short film, presented in the style of a travel video.
They would also be responsible for writing the first draft of the script and coming up with the concept. Once drafted, Sharon and I then assisted in adapting the scripts for filming.
A schedule was drawn up, and over 12 days we shot the 12 Show Reels. Because there was no time for second attempts, we proceeded regardless of the weather. This included strong winds, persistent rain on one shoot, occasional sunshine and even fog. The film at Heart-Shaped Waterfall was shot almost entirely with the camera under a protective rain jacket to keep it dry, just the lens poking out.
The finished films were projected onto a large, 13.5 x 8 ft screen, specially built for the show by Solomon & Company (St Helena), another key supporter and sponsor of the last three pageants.
The Show Reels were a huge success and well received by the audience with some great feedback afterwards.
It was something of a surprise for many to see how convincingly the contestants took on the role of on-camera presenter, guiding viewers through a range of attractions on St Helena with enthusiasm and confidence.
Glamming Up on the Red Carpet
Third round was the traditional Eveningwear and this time two questions, which were a little more challenging.
A special frame, sponsored by Solomons, containing strips of LED lighting, was suspended above the 7.38m runway, which helped illuminate the carpeted centre-piece of the stage setup.
Each of the contestants glided elegantly down the runway, stopped at the end of the runway to smile left to right across the audience, then a playful turn, a glance over the shoulder, and back along the runway for another chat and questions with compere, Nicola.
And Then There Were Five
After a short interval to allow the four judges to confer, all 12 contestants took to the stage once more for the first high-tension moment of the show, the eliminations. Five finalists were chosen, seven were eliminated.
In order, the following five finalist names were called out:
Aliyah Crowie. Camilla Thomas. Kayla-Jayne Brady. Kerisha Francis. Shanice Phillips.
The other seven contestants then left the stage to warm applause from the audience.
Each of the five finalists stepped forward in turn to choose one of five sealed envelopes, each containing a question from the judges. The fifth envelope contained a question from the audience at the CCC.
As always, the tension in the room at this stage was palpable! Judges questions always seem to strike fear into the contestants, and even one or two in the audience.
Contestant No.4, Aliyah Crowie – Miss St Helena 2022
Christian Castell and Martin Plato entertained the audience with two original songs during the final short interval, including the very catchy, ‘Jamestown Way.’
There was also a lucky ticket draw for members of the audience, with prizes that included electronic scales, a plant pot and Tupperware.
Saint FM Station Manager, Tammy Williams, presented the Saint FM Media Award. This went to Contestant No.2, Paige Williams, for her superb Show Reel filmed on Diana’s Peak.
And then it was time for the big moment when the judges’ final decisions would be revealed.
Second runner-up was announced, this going to Contestant No.11, Kerisha Francis.
Miss St Helena 2018, Gemma Lawrence, was on hand to fit the sashes and tiaras.
First runner-up was then called for Contestant No.12, Shanice Phillips.
Finally, to the sound of the obligatory drum roll and a colourful shower of confetti, Contestant No.4, Aliyah Crowie was announced, to loud applause, as Miss St Helena 2022.
A Night At The Movies
A little more about the Show Reels.
In 2020, at the last Miss St Helena, the swimsuit round was replaced by the Attention Seeker, a colourful fusion of fashion, innovation and creative messaging, raising awareness of a range of important issues and causes.
Changing it up again this year, the Show Reel concept was introduced as the round two feature.
Each contestant was tasked with deciding an aspect of St Helena to promote in a video, produced in the style of a travel film. As well as choosing the topic they would also write the first draft of the script.
Running time of the films would be just 90 seconds, and judges would be asked to score based on the story-telling value over this brief timeframe.
Topics and locations were all at the mercy of the weather gods, which saw us filming at the top of Diana’s Peak on a gloriously clear day, soaked and muddy from the rain at Heart-Shaped Waterfall, and waiting around for hours in Blue Hill for the fog to clear!
There were also strong winds to contend with at the top of Ladder Hill and High Knoll Fort, as well as huge swells out on the ocean for the sailing trip.
All good fun!
Filmmaking is a fantastic, creative experience with superb potential to acquire many skills that have long-term benefits – project planning, writing, research, public speaking, problem solving, communications, teamwork, and of course, the technical side of filmmaking itself, from designing shot angles to working with unpredictable light situations.
What we managed to do with 12 young, first-time presenters, over just 12 days, took even Sharon and I by surprise. It just goes to show the potential in young people to adapt quickly to new things.
The films will be posted on our YouTube channel for ongoing promotion of St Helena as a legacy of the 2022 Miss St Helena event.
Questions & Answers
Questions for contestants come in two categories – the traditional pageant questions which remain largely unchanged from year to year, ie favourite foods, music, movies, etc. Travel questions, influential people, personal ambitions… you know the type.
But then there are the questions of the day, relating to current events. This year they included Covid-19 and the island’s plans to remove mandatory quarantine requirements, Side Path Road which has been closed for almost a year causing all traffic on the eastern side of the island to squeeze up and down Constitution Road, and roles within the new ministerial government which has only been in place since October 2021.
Wahoo Fish Cakes; They Hit The Spot
Our new Miss St Helena clearly impressed the judges over the course of the evening, with both her Show Reel presentation, and tackling the four questions that came her way.
In the first round, Aliyah was asked, about the perfect St Helena meal for a visitor to the island. What would she make, and why?
Confessing her love of food, Aliyah said, “If I had to prepare a St Helenian dish, it would have to be fish cakes and at the moment you can’t buy potatoes, so, French fries!” A reference to the local work-a-round of substituting French fries during potato shortages.
She also stressed the type of fish was important, “…and not tuna, specifically wahoo, because it hits the spot. I think that would definitely have to be my dish.”
Stay A Little Longer
Two questions were put to each contestant during the eveningwear round.
Aliyah was asked, if the crew from a visiting yacht had just one day on St Helena, and wanted to go hiking, where would she take them, and why?
With the knowing smile of having clearly prepared for this type of question, the Half Tree Hollow teenager began by saying she would first convince the visitors to stay longer than just one day, because, “one day is not enough to explore all that St Helena has to offer.”
This would no doubt have scored well with the judges.
“I think if I convinced them to stay I would take them to Lot’s Wife’s Ponds. It is a very long walk, but I think on a hot summer’s day, the end result is really amazing, you get to swim in the ponds.”
The second question in the eveningwear round made reference to a big shake-up in British politics, just a few days earlier, when Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, reluctantly announced he was stepping down.
The question was: The UK will soon have a new Prime Minister. If you could make a request to that new person, on behalf of St Helena, what would you ask them?
Aliyah said she would ask for more investment in St Helena, reasoning the island needs that exposure to move forward and it would help give all ages a bright, safe and healthy future.
Arts and Creative Pursuits
As the final contestant to be called forward for a Judges’ Question, in the elimination round, the last envelope on offer contained this question.
At the weekends some youths are bored, restless and getting into mischief. What would you suggest that would be constructive, entertaining, affordable and would provide consistency and enjoyment for teenagers?
Her answer here would surely have helped tip the title her way.
Aliyah began by revealing she loves music and likes to sing, and this could be a good activity for other young people as the popularity of “boom boxes” seems to suggest.
“I think something to do with the music and drama and arts,” she explained. Then, making reference to one of the Miss St Helena programme events held two weeks earlier, Aliyah told the audience, “Talking to Miss Teeny Lucy from our Leaders’ Tea, she said that is definitely one thing that St Helena lacks.”
The contestant confidently went on to highlight the importance of engaging with young people, but at their level for maximum results, noting how her own job in education provides a great sense of accomplishment when you make a connection with pupils.
“I feel on St Helena we really need to bring through the arts, bring through the education,” said the soon to be winner of the pageant.
A New Reign Begins
Two years is the length of time between pageants. Two years for each winner to wear the crown – or the tiara in this case.
We send our very best wishes for the next two years to Aliyah Crowie, Miss St Helena 2022.
Miss St Helena 2022 – The Night in Pictures