The award is a bit of an upgrade from a previously existing one for leadership that’s been given out at pageants prior to this year’s, which takes place Sunday, Sept. 24 at the Sheila NaGeira Theatre in Carbonear. The Junior Miss Newfoundland and Labrador pageant is at 1 p.m., with the Miss Teen Trinity-Conception Pageant starting at 7 p.m.
In light of the significant number of fatal accidents on the Veteran’s Memorial Highway and elsewhere, the award has been changed to reflect a message of safe and secure driving.
Thorne was killed in a fatal accident along the New Harbour Barrens in 2016. A trial for two men charged with speed facing causing death is scheduled to begin in October, though an appearance for a status update is on the docket for this Monday at Harbour Grace Provincial Court.
Sabrina Jenkins has played a key role in the organization and planning of pageants for many years, and when brainstorming for this year’s award, she told The Compass her mind instantly went to Hannah Thorne, who she coached in cheerleading for several years.
“For the past couple years we’ve given out an award, which we called the youth leadership award. It included volunteer work, leadership. But this year we said, maybe we should change that,” said Jenkins, “and so our committee sat down and had a discussion. We thought we could make it something that has an impact, something the girls will really learn. Something that can teach them a lesson.”
Jenkins went on to explain that upon coming to this decision, almost instantly, the committee had all come into the same thought process – Hannah Thorne.
“It’s something that our teen girls are starting. They’re all starting to get their licenses, or just starting to learn how to drive,” Jenkins explained. “We figured if we could get them now, at that point in their life, then promoting safe driving and giving them an avenue to learn about the hazards of the road is something that would really stick with them."
With this idea in mind, the pageant committee went to STAND (Standing Together Against Negligent Driving) for Hannah, an organization formed by friends and family of Thorne, which advocates for safe driving. Gail Thorne, Hannah’s mother, is president of the organization. She told The Compass that working together with the pageant required no second thoughts.
“As soon as I got off the phone with them, they told me to talk to people about it and give it some though,” said Gail. “But I knew. I knew right away that this was something we wanted to do.”
This year’s pageant sees 12 different girls from various communities around the area, with an age range of 13-17. The winner of the award will receive a sash, tiara, and a program through Strong Drivers, valued at approximately $850. On top of this, however, the winner will also receive two special items – heart-shaped sunglasses, and a princess ring. Both items are similar to those worn by Hannah, and Hannah’s godchild will present the ring.
“Hannah had bought a ring – a princess ring – out of money that she had gotten for her grad. We’ve kind of adapted that, and STAND for Hannah has purchased a similar ring for this award, plus the winner of the pageant as well,” Gail explained, when asked about the ring and glasses. “The heart-shaped glasses, they were something Hannah wore on her grad day. So, it just sort of became her signature, because all day during grad day, while they were taking pictures and stuff, she had them on, so that’s where that came from.”
While Hannah herself was never directly involved in the pageants, her close friend, Kylie Jackson of South Dildo, was named Miss Teen Trinity-Conception in 2014. Jenkins and Gail said Hannah supported Jackson however she could.
The award will be given out for the first time this coming Sunday. The pageant would like to see it become an annual award, similar to others given out at the pageant, though nothing has yet been set in stone in terms of planning for the next pageant.
“This is certainly something Hannah would have liked to see,” said Gail through tear-filled eyes. “I knew Hannah pretty good. We were really good, friends, and I have no doubt that this is something she would have loved.”