The faces of this year’s Ladysmith Ambassador program are Kelly Wallace, Kezia Cloke and Brianne Broadhurst.
The three young ladies were crowned during Saturday night’s coronation ceremony at the Frank Jameson Community Centre.
It has been a long eight-month journey for the 15 Ladysmith Ambassador candidates who took to the stage, but the ending was one of both class and poise, as the candidates gave their final speeches, answered one final impromptu question and waited eagerly for the tabulated results.
Naturally, the newly-crowned royalty were relatively speechless as the evening came to a close.
“There are no words to describe it,” said Wallace.
“It’s been amazing — it’s such a growing experience; I’ve matured so much,” added Broadhurst.
All three Ambassadors say they are excited to help mentor the new candidates who will enter the program in the fall. They also want to use their time as Ambassadors to promote community involvement and volunteerism.
“I’m looking forward to getting close to everyone,” Broadhurst said.
In the coming months, Wallace, Cloke and Broadhurst will be present at all of Ladysmith’s well-known events, such as the Maritime Festival, Canada Day and the Festival of Lights.
In addition, they will make about four off-Island trips around the province to visit other Ambassadors in the program and promote the Town of Ladysmith.
Outgoing Ambassador Madeline Tremblay and outgoing Vice-Ambassadors Amber Brown and Geordana Clint gave their farewell speeches, handed down their crowns and offered words of wisdom for the candidates and the incoming Ambassadors.
A few chuckles and tears were shared, as the three shared experiences and anecdotes about their journey in the program.
“I am sad to be leaving this part of my life behind me, but I am so thankful that I was living this wonderful opportunity,” Tremblay said. “My reign has helped me to become the young woman I am today.”
To the candidates, Tremblay expressed her pride for their hard work.
“No matter what happens, you are all beautiful, and you are all winners,” she said. “To my successor, you are in for the most unforgettable year. Tonight, you will be starting a journey that will fly by but will consist of more laughs, smiles and amazing experiences than you can imagine.”
“Soak in every experience you can, make memories, and remember it’s what’s under the crown that sparkles the most,” Brown said.
During the evening, awards were given to the winners of the Speech and Talent night, as well as awards for personal growth and congeniality.
Winning first place in the talent category was Mackenzie Read for her clog dancing routine. Second place went to Kezia Cloke for her re-enactment of a classic I Love Lucy sketch. Third place went to Hayley Uterhagen for jump rope routine.
For the speech awards, Kelly Wallace took first place, followed by Sophie Neligan and Kezia Cloke.
The Congeniality Award is awarded to the candidate who best represents themselves as the most compatible, kind, encouraging, and friendly candidate. The winner of the award is selected by all of the candidates, and it went to Sophie Neligan. The Personal Growth Award, chosen by the ambassador committee, honours one of the candidates whose personal growth during the program is second to none. The winner was Holly Burgess.
B.C. Ambassador Freda Zhang of White Rock was one of a number of visiting royalty from other communities in the province.
“They have done a wonderful job,” she said. “I really hope they will enjoy their year and represent their city well.”
Zhang said it is important for people to remember that the Ambassador program is not a beauty competition.
“We’re nothing similar because we promote education,” she said. “About 99 per cent of our candidates decide to go through post-secondary, and most of them make a career and have a degree …and they help out the community and inspire other teenagers to be like them.”
Ambassador committee member Lauri Virtanen said it has been a record year for attendance in the Ambassador program and that the quality of the candidates exceeded all expectations.
“I don’t know how the judges did it this year; the girls did such an awesome job,” she said. “These candidates have worked so hard.”
Virtanen said the personal growth she sees each young candidate undergo during the program’s eight months is phenomenal.
“It’s just a really good program,” she said. “It’s not a beauty pageant; it’s a real program, and I think each and every one of them gets something out of it.”