Miss Jamaica UK Cherelle-Rose Patterson
Making Jamaica proud
Daviot Kelly, Gleaner Writer
With a ready smile, quick humour and sharp focus, it's near impossible to dislike Cherelle-Rose Patterson; the judges certainly didn't.
Patterson is the reigning Miss Jamaica UK, the foremost beauty pageant in that territory for ladies of Jamaican heritage. Many contestants have forged successful careers in numerous professions. Contestants ages 18 to 26 are groomed to represent themselves, and Jamaica, with pride and grace. And Patterson has done just that since she was crowned last year.
She hands over the crown in a few months.
"But I don't want to," she shared with a smile. "It's been good. I wanna keep it."
Patterson's grandparents are from Mandeville, Manchester, here in Jamaica, but she was born and raised in East Dulwich, south London. She said that pageant founder June Daley has been a family friend for many years.
"So I knew that she was running the competition and I was interested in entering it," she told Outlook. "I wanted to enter Miss Jamaica UK just so that I could reach out to a wider audience and have a connection with my culture."
The pageant was not her first trek down the catwalk; the beauty created history in April 2013 when she became the first black woman to win the Miss Universe London pageant.
"Miss Universe London gives you automatic entry into Miss Universe Great Britain (GB)," she explained. "It was amazing. It was good because I wasn't expecting to win. There was a girl there that I thought, 'Yeah, she's the winner'. So when I won, I was shocked."
She went on to place fourth at the Miss Universe GB pageant in June last year.
Patterson is a perennial top-five finisher in pageants, but winning Miss Jamaica UK last November has led to many opportunities.
"I've always been into it; I like the glamour of it (beauty pageants)," she said. "So I thought it would be a good platform to get into, to get to the goals that I want."
And that goal is to be a model. But as with any plan, there's a backup. She starts her diploma in dentistry in November at the APT London School of Dentistry.
"I just think teeth are so important," she said. "They frame your face and I like a nice smile. I'll still pursue my modelling ... and I'll do them both with a 100 per cent effort and see where I go."
a little daunting
Despite having pageant experience, she admitted she found Miss Jamaica UK a little daunting.
"There were girls there who had a stronger connection with Jamaica, so I kind of felt like the underdog," she said. "But it was good meeting them, connecting with them, getting to know them. It's really nice."
There was no talent section (she jokes that that was a good thing because she doesn't have any), but the interview section can boost or bust a contestant's chances. Her question was 'Do you think the Jamaicans living in the diaspora have an obligation to assist in Jamaica's development?'
"And I don't even know how I answered that," she laughed. "But my answer was yes."
Patterson reasoned that, coming from London, she saw how much the Jamaican culture in London is growing, and that makes her happy.
"Without that, would people know about Jamaica, would they know about our food, would they know about our music, would they know about the way we dress?" she asked. "I've been to so many countries ... everyone loves Jamaicans, so the culture is popular."
During her year's reign, she has been making various appearances and doing charity work.
"But it's all about just continuing to be a role model, someone who young girls can look up to, someone who can inspire the younger generation," she said. "I don't think there are a lot of positive role models these days."
Speaking of role models, her mother is hers.
"My mother has been through a lot and I think that she's a very strong woman," she said. "She knows how to compose herself, she's always been classy."
Patterson was in Jamaica recently to once again reconnect with her heritage. This included everything, from visiting popular sites like the Bob Marley Museum and Little Ochie, to connecting with family and "eating too much food".
She thinks more young women should enter the Miss Jamaica UK contest as it is "a confidence booster".
"It's also a good platform for you and it enables you to inspire others," she said, while giving advice to future contestants. "Be yourself, and when you're on stage, just have fun. Just think it's you and the judges and no one else in the room. And just keep smiling."