Yolanda Gqobo, a South African now resident in London, won the 22nd Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth title at the Polish Centre in Hammersmith in November 2009. She was recommended to the contest by photographer Ben Black, and her deputy was Gloria Nsubuga, recommended by Jacqueline Matovu, now promoter of Miss UgandaUK, with third position shared by Lucie Mavananshiku and Evita Dossou-Yevo. For the second time Africans had won all the top places in a contest which this year had a higher than average number of older contestants. Yolanda’s glamorous appearance brightened up an evening of difficulty. It was a wonder that the show took place at all because it was beset by some many difficulties and set-backs.Magykk Myers, a Ghanaian who had impressed in the previous contest earlier in the year, was co-opted as Co-ordinator to take some of the burden from promoter Clayton Goodwin, whose time was much occupied by the illness, death and funeral of his mother, and professional journalism commitments. The attempt to form a promotional committee was frustrated by lack of cohesion among the personalities involved, and a general malaise in the beauty contest activity. To make worse, the evening of the show was hit by traffic congestion which delayed most of the participants, a power shortage, and a meeting in Birmingham of the Jamaican diaspora which prevented several key helpers from attending. Bonfire / Guy Fawkes parties on the same night also hit the numbers of family groups from attending. Nevertheless, the show went ahead as scheduled …… thanks to the help of many stalwarts of the competition.Angela Cox, organiser of Miss Trinidad & Tobago UK, who had been a supporter for over a dozen years was superb. On learning almost at the last moment that some of the young promoters who had offered their assistance were not able to deliver Angela pulled out all the stops to ensure that the first part of the programme was up to expectations. She provided models, singers and from behind a curtain read the commentary. It was not the first time that the title has been indebted to her. Nikeisha Reyes, another Trinidadian, competently and successfully took over the role of principal singer. Archbishop Dr Bancroft McCarthy and the United Christian Harmony Group came through the traffic problems to give the show a strong foundation. Magykk Myers produced a contest which, in spite of the problems, maintained the high standards of previous years. If the principals breathed a sigh of relief when the winner was crowned, and the evening ended successfully, they did so prematurely.Yolanda’s sashing at Windies Cove restaurant in Greenwich followed the traditional pattern. Even so, the attempt to work out a partnership between Yolanda and her predecessor Karola failed to get off the ground. The new reign started well with Yolanda, accompanied by Magykk, being received by the Mayor of Hillingdon, and, shortly afterwards, she attended a promotion by Mahogany Models at the Bloomsbury Centre. By then, however, Clayton Goodwin had seen a press report which had caused him concern. He suspended Yolanda’s tenure of office until she could give an adequate explanation, but he did not hear from her. Consequently, for the second time within less than a year, Karola Rajoo was the sole official title-holder.  It was probably the darkest time for the title. Even so, it is always darkest before the dawn. The tide, which had receded so far now, unknown to the promoters, had begun to turn. Clayton started to put together a team which would make the 23rd Miss Caribbean &Commonwealth contest exceptional. By March 2010, a year after the disappointing launch which had presaged twelve months of disappointment, the title had already attracted a high quality of candidates recommended by the promoters of national community contests. Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth was still the crown to which the public and the beauty “industry” aspired. 



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