Miss World Barbados Ashley Lashley. (GP)
Ashley Lashley is ticking off goals one by one. The 18-year-old’s most recent achievement was winning the title of Miss World Barbados, a dream she had from age 13.
Ashley who still lives in Halls Road, St Michael, where she grew up, said she has many pleasant memories from her childhood.
“I had an exciting childhood. My older brother and I used to run about our community and enjoy childhood activities. We have a close relationship and he was always supportive of me. We also had a calm relationship, not much disagreements,” she said, smiling sweetly.
And one can understand why. Ashley has a bubbly and friendly personality. She exudes a warmth that draws people to her.
The past student of Wesley Hall Junior School wasn’t a quiet child at school, though. She was actively involved in Brownies, Girl Guides, athletics and joining as many organisations as possible.
“Finding me was the best part of my childhood when I attended the Alexandra Secondary School. I realised who I wanted to be and who I aspired to be. Being apart of various groups empowered me to be the young lady I am today.”
Ashley, who is a student of the American University of Barbados, said that her career path changed when she realised that she wanted to help people.
“I wanted to be a chef at first. I was at the Garrison [Secondary School] and transferred to the Alexandra School and I was speaking to my guidance counsellor [we had a very strong relationship] and I told her I wanted to take a break and try to focus on what it is I really wanted to do with my life onward. My goals were shifting and I was a bit confused.”
The guidance counsellor’s advice was for Ashley to apply for the sixth form programme.
“I really wanted to attend The Lodge School, so I wrote that down about three times,” she said, chuckling.
She got her wish and it was at The Lodge School that Ashley blossomed.
She was active in sports and won the Miss Teen Barbados pageant in 2016 while at Alexandra and that propelled her to take up the huge task of producing her school’s pageant in 2017 to help raise funds for the graduating class.
“I have to admit that was very challenging and that led me to believe in my motto “Let no obstacle be greater than the cause’ because I believe that once you go through certain things in life it helps you to overcome any hurdles further on.”
The Lodge School was where Ashley started her own organisation, Schools Against Non-Communicable Diseases.
She has a deep passion for this platform as it has also prompted her next goal of becoming a United Nations ambassador.
“I realised too many children are obese and living unhealthy lifestyles. I did my research and realised it could become an epidemic. I can use this avenue to bring awareness and sensitise children about the impact these diseases will have on their lives.”
Ashley’s passion is inherited from her parents, former parliamentarian Hamilton Lashley and her mum Joycelyn Brathwaite.
“I heard stories growing up about his work and I became inspired. Even to enter Miss World Barbados I went to him and asked his advice. He said it was a good opportunity.”
Ashley said Miss World was always a dream and it was one of the goals she had written down years earlier.
“I am happy I could tick this one off,” she said, laughing. “After I produced the model search at school I was looking for another avenue and the competition was restarted by Rodney Powers and his team. I said, ‘This was my time’.”
Her application was accepted and it was on to training.
After 12 months of intense preparations it came down to the night of crowning, and Ashley was nervous.
“I had grown close to some of the girls and really all of the girls were nice. It wasn’t really a competition but a sisterhood . . . . We had a strong bond.”
On the night Ashley, whose gown was made by Lester Welch, made the top four. That was when the nerves kicked in.
“After the two question and answer segments I didn’t go backstage. I went out to the side and sat by myself and spoke to God. I had hoped I had also answered my questions properly.”
Ashley said after hearing the second runner-up and the first runner-up she realised it was down to her and Rashida [Harrison].
“I heard the emcee say, “And Miss World Barbados is Ashley that rhymes with Lashley [inside joke]”. I didn’t know how to react.
I was actually in shock and then I said to myself, “Ashley, you finally did it. It is another goal you have accomplished.”
Ashley said she was smothered with hugs and kisses from supporters: “My parents were more excited than me.”
Ashley said she went home that night and went to sleep.
The next day she had a staycation with her mum and friends to finally relax, sans any cellphone.
“It was a bit too much after I won to hear about some controversy surrounding my title so I turned off my phone because I didn’t want to hear or see anything negative and just enjoyed myself.”
Ashley has already done a fundraiser as part of her platform, and is back at school concentrating on her studies.
“Studying medicine is challenging. I have never done the sciences but I am learning new things and meeting new people,” said the 5 foot, 10 inch model.
“I want to start my own lab to find cures for non-communicable diseases. The United Nations platform will help with that.”
Ashley said the Miss World pageant in China will be another challenge but she hopes to promote Barbados and her Beauty With A Purpose project [non-communicable diseases].
“I also want to bring home the crown.”
For now, the excited teen likes to watch Greys Anatomy, go to the gym and take in pretty sunsets. (NS)