FROM: Chairman & members of the Carnival Development Corporation
It is with a very heavy heart that we learnt of the passing of our dear sister Mrs. Avis Yorke, of Cane Garden, Deputy Chairperson of the Beauty Shows Committee of the CDC, and we now pay tribute to her.
Mrs. Yorke, the owner of Flick Pest Control, a successful business woman, a cultural icon whose national service to Mas and Beauty Pageants spans over decades has served with great distinction and was well-known for her ability to motivate the team, the Miss SVG Contestants, and the Miss Carival delegates. Some of the newer generation of Masqueraders will not know of her exploits in the arena of Mas. She loved Mas and she even brought her own Mas Band and took a coveted prize.
However, we believe she is best known for her work with the Beauty Shows Committee. Mrs. Yorke would scout for Queen Contestants and marked the Rural contestants for the following year's show. She was most valuable in seeking Sponsorship for the Contestants. She was a very persuasive advocate for the innovations to the Show over the years and shouldered her responsibility admirably. She would not let you down. One could always depend on her meeting the target set. She undertook to source trophies for the girls; she would source wardrobe items for them; she would almost ''adopt'' them. She promised many mothers of Contestants to take care of them, and she defended them at all costs. She had put her business network at the disposal of the CDC. She went as far as enlisting family members and relatives in the U.S Diaspora, especially Fessy Yorke to work voluntarily for the CDC, and particularly for the Labor Day Vincy Mas promotions in New York, as well as the Dynamites Calypso Tent.
Lovingly known to contestants and queens in Beauty Pageants and her fellow Beauty Shows Committee members as ‘Aunty Avis,’ several of them recall her as ‘being firm, with a kind heart, always fussing to ensure perfection.’
Mrs. Cheryl Rodriguez and members of her committee speak highly of ‘her commitment, dedication and her exceptional ability to get things done. Whatever she did, be it convincing an individual or business place to sponsor a contestant or donate a gift, she always got her way. Her motherly affection, her interests in Contestants and her desire to ensure that they are the best they can be was demonstrated by having them live at her home during training and preparation. She was always ‘on the ball’ and performed her duties passionately. Her sense of humor always had us laughing to relieve the stress. Her bark was more than her bite. She meant well in all she did, a perfectionist by nature.
Mrs. Yorke was officially recognized and honoured by the CDC in 2008 for her contribution to the Carnival Pageants and Carnival Art and Culture. Her service was sincerely appreciated.
In a citation in 2008 the CDC said this: “Mrs. Avis. Yorke hails from a family background that has contributed tremendously to Vincy Mas. She, herself has devoted over forty years of involvement in Carnival and was the first female Band Leader to win a Band of the Year title at Mardi Gras celebrations; a feat she accomplished in 1983 with the presentation ‘Seasons.’
In the 1960’s, early 1970’s era, Mrs. Yorke was one of the pillars behind legendary band leader Lennox ‘Scully’ Hunte. From the mid 1970’s to the early 1990’s, she was a formidable force in Bad Lads and Lasses Mas Band led by the redoubtable Eddison ‘Sheggy’ John, except for that memorable year 1983, when, following a boycott by the established Mas Bands, she branched off and won the Band of the year title.
Her contribution to the development of the Beauty Shows component of Vincy Mas spans the era of Carnival Queens to Miss SVG and Miss Carival Pageants. Hers has been a true labor of love and devotion to the nurturing of the Beauty pageants, now a fully integral part of our premiere National Cultural Festival.
While devoting much time and energy to the Miss SVG and Miss Carival Beauty Pageants, Mrs. Yorke still has more than enough to spare through her involvement with Mirage Productions, a Mas Band led by Carnival icon Lennox ‘Becks’ Gonsalves. She pays particular attention to the Junior Masqueraders on whom the future of Vincy Mas depends.”
Chairman of the Mas Bands Association, Mr. Hugh Raguette, also her god brother had this to say ‘all Mas men called her ‘Tanty Avis.’ It was difficult to say no to her. Whatever she asked you to do, just get it done.
Mr. Dennis Ambrose, Chairman of the CDC appreciates ‘her dedication and selfless involvement. I would miss those phone calls.’
She will be missed not only by her fellow Committee members and the production team, but also by the Mas Bands and wider Carnival Community.
We extend our deepest sympathy to her Mom, her son Anthony and his family, daughter Sharon and her family, other family members, relatives, friends and business associates. We will miss her humor and her effervescent personality.
God wanted a hard worker in his kingdom so he called our beloved ‘Aunty Avis.’ Rest in peace in the arms of your saviour and friend; child of a most high God.
With deepest sympathy,
CARNIVAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION