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A year in the reign of Miss Guyana UK

HUMBLE: Lauren Felicity Hosannah has become the face of her community

NINETEEN YEAR-OLD Lauren Felicity Hosannah has been the face of Guyana in the UK since she was crowned Miss Guyana UK 2016 last November.

The University of Birming- ham student has had a whirlwind round of activities since her crowning in Croydon, her hometown, which included being guest of honour at various events, volunteering work and meeting Guyanese government dignitaries. As the country gets ready to celebrate 51 years of independence, Lauren has reflected on her reign so far and her fund-raising efforts for edu- cational equipment to help the children of Guyana.

She spoke to Life and Style about how her life has changed, as well as her plans for the future. “My reign has been educational,” she says. “My title as MGUK has al- lowed me the privilege of work- ing with a number of amazing charities and organisations, predominantly those raising aware- ness of mental health and autistic spectrum disorders (a theme central to the MGUK pageant).

“Being a psychology first year student at the University of Birmingham, this has been an eye-opening experience, as I was allowed insight into the lives of families coping with these conditions – learning first- hand about their struggles and bravery. Some of the charities I have supported and raised awareness of include A2nd- Voice, an autism support group based in Tooting, south London run by Vanessa Bobb and her team.

They have organised multiple events such as the Autism Solent Disco as well as the fundraisers to increase autism awareness. I also support The Cassandra Learning Centre. “It is a safe home based in Norbury, south London, seeking to educate young people about domestic violence and healthy relationships. I also attended The Marcus Lipton Youth Club’s local community Christmas party.

“The club aims to keep kids off the street by utilising the community hub. Various events on the day included a rapping workshop based upon healthy eating.” Lauren says that wearing the crown Miss Guyana UK has definitely made me more humble.

HONOURED: Miss Guyana UK meets vice president of Guyana, Carl Greenidge

“I have volunteered at the Brixton Soup kitchen on Christmas Eve preparing the sacks full of essentials, then went on to join outreach for the homeless. It is an amazing organisation run by an amazing people. I was invited as a guest of honour to the LaughWaze Comedy show raising money for youth offenders."

“This organisation has helped rehabilitate many young people to educate them about alternatives to crime. I have given motivation speeches at schools talking about my journey. Doing MGUK and winning pushed me past my comfort zone and I realised I can do whatever I want."

“I am working alongside the Guyanese Suicide Mission – founded by David Prasad of the Mission fellowship and his team – to combat the suicide crisis.”

Lauren has also had the opportunity to meet dignitaries and represent Guyana since being crowned.

“As Miss Guyana UK, I am proud to represent the Guyanese community in this country,” she says.

“I have had the privilege of meeting the Guyanese High Commissioner on multiple occasions, as well as His Excellency Brigadier David. “Both His Excellency and his vice president, Carl Greenidge, were at the Presidential gather- ing held at the Club Classic (a Guyanese-owned venue run by Tafawa Ntune).

“I was also given the opportunity to raise questions about the suicide crisis in Guyana and what plans the government have in place to combat such issues. My reign has allowed me to grow as a woman. It is really important to me that I do more than just promote the amazing charities and organisations I have met."

“Each and every one of them has left a mark on me and helped motivate me to do more – even when my reign as Miss Guyana UK comes to an end.

“And in celebration of Independence Day there is a host of exciting events taking place. Guyana celebrates its 51st year of independence on the May 26. I will be attending a celebration event in honour of this at the Club Classic on May 27 (9pm - 3.30am). I will also be visiting Guyana in the coming month and plan to continue the work and mission set out.”

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