JIS News

Her beautiful costume, quick smile and great personality attracted admirers wherever she went, and she graciously posed for pictures and signed autographs, perfectly confident in her role as Cultural Ambassador for Jamaica.
Miss Jamaica Festival Queen for 2004/05, Dr. Marsha Barnett ended her one week tour of the United Kingdom (UK) on Tuesday (May 24), and it was a trip that she described as “really fabulous”.
While she admitted that there were so many highlights of her visit to London and Birmingham, it was difficult to choose a single event, she however noted that her visit to two community based projects in Birmingham really touched her.
“The highlight probably was my visit to Birmingham. We went to two places that are doing tremendous community work. At Fresh Winds they looked at mainly Afro Caribbean persons who have HIV/AIDS or other terminal illnesses and also persons who have substance abuse issues. They also have a programme that looks after young persons to help them with respect to training and how to access social service. I also went to Acorn, a hospice for children who are terminally ill. That for me was very touching,” she told JIS News.
Dr. Barnett, who works at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, has a particular interest in HIV/AIDS, and she has been involved in several counselling and educational programmes, mainly aimed at young people.
“You cannot be in the world today and not have an interest in HIV/AIDS. It’s a pandemic that affects the entire world. And despite all of the things we have been doing to curb it, it continues to be rampant and the incidents are increasing, so there is so much more to be done. The other problem is that it is affecting young people, so when you look at years of potential lives lost, the effect on the economy, the effect on family life, the effect on us socially, there is a lot to be done,” she said.
During her London visit, Dr. Barnett spoke of the work being done on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica, at a meeting of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, and the Friends of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica.
While in the UK, she paid a courtesy call on High Commissioner, Gail Mathurin; visited the St. Mark’s Primary school in Mitchum, and was the special guest of Dale Robinson, UK Operations Manager for National Commercial Bank. She called on Special Advisor to the Mayor of London, Lee Jasper at City Hall, and was a special guest at the Jamaican booth at the Chelsea Flower Show. She was also interviewed by BBC Radio and New Style Radio in Birmingham.
Dr. Barnett, who will relinquish her crown in July, said her year as Miss Jamaica Festival Queen was very good.
“It’s been very good, overwhelming, instructive, and life-changing. It forces you to do a number of things, to learn more about Jamaica, its history and culture, and I became more of a people person. It has also shown me that people can make a difference,” she said.

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