BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 8th November 2019) –She was laughed at on social media after going viral locally for speech blunders made during on stage during a promotional appearance for the show but in a turn of events, 18-year-old Leonna Brookes was crowned Queen of the St. Peter’s Festival Pageant over the past weekend, and her winning talent performance was a direct response to her critics.

With a score of 741 points, she outshone her other three competitors before a packed audience gathered at the St. Peter’s Basketball Court venue on Friday 1st November 2019 as she captured two out of the four judged segments namely Best Speech (227 points) and Best Talent (255 points). Additionally, she copped the Miss Popular award.

16-year-old Tresjeur Dedier got the first runner-up spot with 717 points.

Best Creative Wear was won by 14-year-old Jewvonna Morson with 126 points for a dress made out of plastic spoons. She was also the recipient of the Miss Photogenic award.

20-year-old Tamia Martin walked away Best Evening Wear with 161 points in a red floor-length gown; shimmery at the top and feathery at the lower portion.

In the promotional speech segment, contestants did presentations about community icons of their choice.

For her presentation, Brookes-contestant #4 spoke about popular community milk man Elbert Bass (her grandfather) who provided door to door milk delivery service before milk was sold in shops.

 “Imagine the days of old when the village shops were our malls and the footprints of donkeys horses could be tracked from stall to stall. You know these times better than I do but what is so familiarly to me is the days of the Milk Man. The days when the Milk Man travelled from door to door delivering milk more and more. My grandfather Mr. Elbert Bass is famously known as the Milk Man in this little village we call home…Many of you can recall his early morning trips and the sound of his engine paired with that of the crickets and the crowing of the roosters. From 5AM, grandad Bass was up and about..,” was part of what the teen queen shared in her speech.

In a comical dramatisation complemented with talking and singing, she told the audience that she was hesitant when she was asked to enter the pageant “because dem aint me tings” but still decided to give it a try.

Before getting fully into her humourous talent which had the audience roaring in laughter, she told: “I know in here full ah people just because aryou want see me fail in here tonight! Main want laugh you know but ah know aryou member dem videos aint it? Ah kno aryou remember dem. Seriously speaking though ah got something ah want say. Judges I’m not sure if dis is a talent but I got something I want say.”

Brookes opened up about the challenges she encountered and her decision to push on despite such obstacles.

“Ah try de first time an a fail; ah say oh den but then de second time ah drop harder dan de first time and ah say ‘No no no tek me out!’…but while I was there Etana (song called ‘People Talk’)  pop in me head… after dat a say ‘Leonna push tru, push tru!’ ‘Never let them get you down, never let them see you frown, never let them take away your livity, live your life and be free’.”

The young mother went on to say: “Ah practice morning noon and night. Me child in me hand, he bottle in he mouth and ah saying me speech over and over ‘Fresh  milk, fresh milk!’ because  I mean the next time aryou laugh is when I want aryou too! Through this journey, I realise who was for me, and people who didn’t even know me had de most to say! But I can’t forget those who lifted me up an say ‘Leonna, you got this! And that is the reason why I’m on stage tonight!”

In sending a direct message to the bullies, she stated: “Ah just want to tell all the bullies out there that it aint easy being onstage and especially when trying something new! It takes all (out) of you! Ah mean some learn faster than some and others just need a lil while to catch on. Stop stamping us to the ground! Lift us up! Cheers us on!”

At the end of her talent performance, she had members of the audience laughing and applauding her witty yet though-provoking delivery.

In speaking exclusively with this reporter after the pageant, when asked how she was feeling, Brookes replied: “I feel a lot better. At first, I didn’t think I could do it and that is why I did what I had to do to prove people wrong.”

In offering advice to others who might be bothered by public criticism, the newly-crowned teen advises to “Don’t give up at all; just keep trying.”

Her chaperon 19-year-old Danecia ‘GG’ Henry of GUCCI (Glowing Unique Confident Creative and Inspiring) Model Agency, talked about the journey to crown and how the public negativity was used to boost her client’s self-confidence and determination.

“We had to use the bad stuff as a cushion to show that something positive could come from something negative and don’t judge a book by its cover. We used everything bad that people were saying about her and despite the mishaps, we still pushed through. She messed up two times and people were sending around those videos. A lot of people who saw the videos reacted and called her ‘pretty dumb’, even some people who are popular on Facebook.”

According to Henry, preparations in light of public mockery were challenging behind the scenes “but I just continued pushing and eventually it paid off.”

She too has some encouraging words for individuals in facing obstacles in life.

“ In life, there are always going to be obstacles; some greater than some but you shouldn’t see it as negative life-altering obstacle but rather, you should always try see it as something that you can become stronger and confident,” she admonishes.