Amy’s Legacy and Gift to Saint Lucia

Looking at the Singer’s Life 10 Years after her Death

JULY 23 marked the ten-year anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s unfortunate passing. The legendary musician died of accidental alcohol poisoning at the age of 27 in London. After Amy’s untimely death in 2011, her family wanted to set up a Foundation to continue her charitable work. Today, the Amy Winehouse Foundation (AWF) helps thousands of young people across the globe including Saint Lucia.

A bright eyed Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse

The British singer spent many happy times in St. Lucia, making friends with locals and leaving a lasting impression. She also spoke of the challenges facing some of the young people on the island and so the Foundation wanted to help.

The foundation has been supporting ‘Amy’s Gift to St. Lucia’ since 2014, a partnership project between the Dunnottar School, a special needs school for children and the Boys Training Centre (BTC) which provides residential and specialist treatment services for juveniles in need of care and protection.

Music teacher John Polius and students.
Music teacher John Polius and students.

These young people can often be marginalized and stigmatized and the project has helped them to improve their health, happiness and aspirations. AWF’s support has included providing the school and centre with musical instruments, including steel pans, and funding the salary for a music teacher who, prior to COVID-19 provided weekly music sessions for three groups at the Dunnottar school and the junior band at BTC.

Some of the older students of the BTC have gone on to further their education in music. The young men at BTC also benefit from AWF funded Drug and Alcohol Awareness and Internet Abuse Programmes to help them with their health and well-being.

According to Bridget McNamara, Chairperson of Amy’s Gift, “It’s not a big charity but I think we are making a difference in some of these children’s lives. I think if you can make a difference in one or two children’s life then you’ve achieved something and that’s nice.”

Early Days

Blaise Claudio Pascal was a highly regarded international tenor born in St. Lucia. He never forgot his roots and was an avid supporter of charities in St Lucia.

He found the time to inspire many young people and it was his work at the Boy’s Training Centre that sowed the seed for an application to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

Blaise sadly died in 2013, but he made an immense impression and brought joy and happiness to BTC and inspired the boys and the staff who saw the value of a music programme for the wards. This was brought to the attention of one of the volunteers who is a member of Amy’s Gift committee.

The Amy’s Gift to St. Lucia committee
The Amy’s Gift to St. Lucia committee. Officers: Chairperson and Treasurer – Bridget McNamara, Vice Chair – Carolyn Archibald, Secretary – Wivina Scott, PRO – Elvin Ryan Germain, Assistant PRO – Sylvrina Howell, Fund-raising – Sue Sandle. Other members of the committee are Antonia Joseph, Gene Lawrence, John Polius, Samantha Norley-Aurelien (representing BTC)

When Amy died, her family set up the Amy Winehouse Foundation in her memory to assist at risk children through music. There was a strong link with Blaise’s initiative, the aims of the Foundation and with Amy’s love of St. Lucia.

Discussions took place with many potential partners to support the Boys Training Centre. There was also a great need for music therapy at the Dunnottar School for children with developmental disabilities but most important was the fact that the School had some experience in teaching music. The school offered the help that the Boys Training Centre required and at the same time increased their music programme.

An application to start a music programme at the Dunnottar School and the Boys Training Centre was submitted to the Amy Winehouse Foundation in January 2014 and approved in April 2014.

Here’s how you can help: donate now via GoFundMe (Amy’s Gift to St. Lucia) to ensure that Amy’s Gift to St. Lucia continues its life-changing valuable work for the future.

Some Highlights.

Dame Pearlette Louisy with the band members from the Dunnottar School and the Boys Training Centre.
Dame Pearlette Louisy with the band members from the Dunnottar School and the Boys Training Centre.

October 2014 – The launch of Amy’s Gift to St. Lucia at Government House at the invitation of the then Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy.

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