Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Her history is marked by four years confined to a wheelchair and little education throughout her childhood.
But that didn't stop Amanda Lillian, from sparkling, strutting confidently to outpace several of the 29 contestants in the 2012 Miss Global International Pageant, copping the coveted crown at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last Saturday night.
From as early as Friday morning after pre-judging interviews, the judges of the Lachu Ramchandani-produced pageant knew the 22-year-old English woman from Liverpool, a psychology major, could easily run off with the crown.
"I had a car accident at 12, and developed a condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a chronic pain condition which resulted in the inability to use my legs," the beauty queen who also copped the prize for Best Figure told the judges.
Courage and determination
Lillian's story is one of strength, courage and determination. As even after she thought she was healed at age 16, her troubles came back just over a year ago, when her joints weakened and she went into relapse.
"But I wasn't willing to give up, particularly after being inspired by the charity associated with the Miss Global International competition," she said.
The charity, Friends for Education, will use proceeds from the event to assist in the education of underprivileged students.
"I can relate to not being able to attend school," Lillian tells The Gleaner.
"Having spent years in a wheelchair and access to two hours per week of home schooling only, was very challenging," she says.
The education platform she says will allow her to use the title to advance the work of the charity.
As confident, poised and aware as Lillian is, she said she was very nervous being on the same stage with Latin beauties 1st runner-up Miss Puerto Rico, Giovanna Lopez and Miss Venezuela, Emny Chasedine.
"My favourites were Venezuela and Puerto Rico, I was drawn to their faces, they are really beautiful girls," she admits.
Miss Venezuela, made it to the top 12, but was trounced by Miss Jamaica, 18-year-old Clover Groves, whose poise, confidence and awareness in the pre-judging of the competition saw her gaining extremely high marks.
The contestant who took home the Most Aware, Miss Malaysia, Sherine Tan Sui Hua, was also selected for Most Congenial by her peers.
And Miss Wales, Laura Keetley, sang her heart out to the crowd, winning the Most Talented, prize while Miss Nicaragua, Bernice Quezada Herrera's extraordinary get-up was voted Best Costume.
The ladies, representing five continents were chaperoned across the island, stopping first at RIU, Montego Bay on arrival in the country, then making their way to Negril, then Kingston via the south coast.
"We covered a lot. We're very blessed to have had the opportunity to see so much," says Lillian.
"One of my favourites was a visit to Dolphin Cove, the dolphin kissed me and I placed a big kiss on his lips and he had lipstick on," she quipped.
For her too, it was an honour meeting the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller. "It was inspiring to see a lady in power," she stated.
But the people she will never forget are the three men and two ladies in the restaurant at RIU, Montego Bay.
"They all purchased tickets and came to support me yesterday (Saturday), because we became great friends. They are special people, who I will never forget. I can't wait to come back."
The Miss Global International has grown considerably and Ramchandani, says it's the biggest contingent in the event's nine-year history.
"Last year we had 22, this year 29. We really had 43 commitments, but some of the girls were affected by visa issues, some missed their flights and some didn't take their shots and couldn't enter the United States," he explained.
Ramchandani says he and his team are in talks with Nigeria, who wants to lease the franchise.
It however, remains a challenge to host the event he says. "I couldn't do it without the sponsors, such as the Montego Bay Convention Centre, RIU, Iberostar, Cornelia Bourne who gave the girls 30 Swiss watches with the Jamaican flag embedded."
Miss Global International 2012 received US$500.00, a Swiss watch, three night-four days accommodation at RIU, the trophy and jewellery.