Ratcliffe rules the leaders
It’s an honoUr! says Renee Ratcliffe about being named 2010 Bandleader Of The Year.Ratcliffe also took other top prizes, including Best Large Band Of The Year and Festival Designer Of The Year, with her band Jump Promotions: The Spirit Of The Gap.Her success this year comes as no surprise. The 34-year-old was ever destined for greatness. From age 16, she was already designing winning costumes for the Blue Box Cart band.“I started out from a young age because I had the talent,” she told the SUNDAY SUN.And with the encouragement of her uncle Stephen Sheppard, her designing career took off.“A lot of people had different plans for me. My mother wanted me to go into interior design, but Stephen saw my potential in fashion design and told me I had to pursue my career in that field. He knew I had it in me,” she said with a smile.Holding an Associate degree in fashion design, she does not regret the decision – particularly after reaping the fruits of her labour. While overseas at university, Ratcliffe was still designing for the Blue Box Cart. On her return to Barbados at 18 she continued to do so. She then started designing for the Boatyard, Club Extreme and Paul’s Enterprise bands before starting her own in 2006.“Jump Promotions was something I wanted to do for a long time; so I wasted no time,” she said.Ratcliffe had been winning awards from the inception of her band, but they were all “small band awards”. In her fourth year with her “big band”, she went all out with The Spirit Of The Gap, and it paid off. However, she admitted that the idea was not a new one.“The idea to feature the bands in The Gap was one that I had in the bag for a very long time, and this year I felt that it was time,” the bandleader added. Although she has a busy schedule, and children to take care of, Ratcliffe was proud to be able to say that all her costumes were handmade by her, with the help of Robert Millar and Derrick “Rus” Sargeant.“None of my costumes was imported. The headpieces were made in Trinidad and Tobago – but that is it,” she stressed with pride.Ratcliffe added that as sponsors went, this year was the best for her.“Thanks to the sponsors I was able to put on the best ever Digicel Mount Gay Jump Promotions: The Spirit of the Gap,” she said.Ratcliffe is looking forward to Crop-Over 2011 with much anticipation. “I now have to try and top this year, so I can continue winning,” she said.