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Somerset scheme's frustration over Amy Winehouse Foundation snub

By Central Somerset Gazette  |  Posted: December 08, 2011

Amy Winehouse during her performance at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival

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There was disappointment for a central Somerset scheme working to turn children away from drugs and alcohol this week when they were snubbed by the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

Police volunteer Walter Antonello of Street police station had been working to secure the support of the charity for their Youths Got Talent scheme.

The project is a competition open to schools and youth groups across central Somerset, encouraging them to come up with a song, play, dance or poem about the effect of alcohol on young people.

No financial support was requested of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, but Mr Antonello said he was very disappointed the foundation had decided not to back the project.

He said: “We were looking for some sort of assistance in the promotion of a campaign designed to teach children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and initially we’d been told it was the sort of project the foundation would back.

“On Friday, I had a phone call to say the foundation would not be able to help or support the project.

“It was a huge disappointment – as we hoped the foundation could help us to get the message out to the young people that we are trying to reach.”

Mr Antonello had written to the foundation asking for their help supporting the scheme through promotion and marketing, but had gone to great lengths to point out that they did not want financial backing, just their help and support in organising the competition.

Youths got Talent was the brainchild of Mr Antonello and PCSO Shelley Day, and was organised with the support and sponsorship of local groups, including local Masonic lodges, Somerset county councillors, including Terry Napper and Alan Gloak, ex-councillor Margaret Robinson, and the Baltonsborough Grumpy Men’s Breakfast Community Club.

The Amy Winehouse Foundation was launched on September 14 this year, on what would have been Ms Winehouse’s 28th birthday.

It was set up in memory of the singer to support charitable activities in both the UK and abroad that provide help young people, especially those who are suffering with addiction, or in need of substance misuse treatment or rehabilitation.

The star had five times the legal drink-drive limit of alcohol in her blood when she died in July this year.

In a statement on their website, the founder, Mitch Winehouse said: “This work will not only make a significant and positive difference for those it supports, but will also pay tribute to Amy’s remarkable life, talent and beautiful spirit.”

Initial conversations with the foundation had been positive, and the reason for the backtrack is not known. At the time of going to press, The Amy Winehouse Foundation were not available for comment.

Despite the setback, there are still plans for next year’s competition to go ahead, allowing youngsters to show off their talents, warn others about the dangers of drink, drugs and other antisocial behaviour issues, and win fund for their school.

For more information, contact Police Community Support Officer Spencer Bishop, or Mr Antonello at Street police station by calling 101.

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