By David Hennessy
New London Rose and well known musician Amy Gillen will host the ‘Karaoke for a Cause’ fundraiser night at The Claddagh Ring in Hendon on Friday 7 July.
Amy has chosen to raise funds for St Andrew’s Youth Club, the oldest youth club in the world, who are dedicated to empowering and nurturing the talents of young individuals and where Amy herself teaches music.
Amy told The Irish World: “I am thrilled to be organising the “Karaoke for a Cause” fundraiser in aid of St Andrew’s Youth Club.
“They do such amazing work for young people.
“I thought it’s the perfect charity to support at this time.
“Education is a huge part of my mission too so I want to give back as much as I can.”
Patricia Marron, Head of Fundraising and Development at St Andew’s, added: “We are delighted that London Rose 2023 Amy Gillen has chosen to fundraise for St Andrew’s Youth Club. Amy has been teaching piano at the club for over a year and has seen first-hand the difference St Andrew’s makes to the lives of children and young people growing up in Central London.
“St Andrew’s provide a sense of belonging, fun and informal education to over 550 Members each year, many coming from families on tight budgets. At the Club, our young members develop self-confidence, life skills and respect for others. The money raised will help the club continue to provide a safe and supportive place for children and young people to play, learn and grow.”
Amy was selected as the new London Rose on 26 May and admits it is all still very surreal.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she says. “This is actually a dream come true.
“I cannot wait to represent London at the Rose of Tralee.
“London has become a home away from home. Being part of this community here in Westminster and the surrounding area does feel like a family.”
From Letterkenny/ Bridgend in Donegal, Amy graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2020 and has even had the honour of playing for King Charles.
“It was in 2021 that I played for Prince Charles, as he was at the time. I was invited to play at the grand opening of the Royal College of music’s new building development and got to meet him.
“They wanted me to walk and play, and I had to make sure it was timed perfectly in order to arrive just in front of Prince Charles at the right time when I finished.
“So it was a bit more of an unusual performance but it was amazing.
“Then I was awarded my Tagore Gold Medal by him in May 2022 at the Royal College of Music, so that was an amazing experience as well.
“He remembered me and he said, ‘When are you gonna play for me again?’”
Amy has also played for Prince Albert of Monaco and recorded her debut album Flute Chapters which came out in April.
On the night of the London Rose Selection Ball Amy performed The Town I Love So Well, a song that holds a lot of meaning for her.
“It’s such a special poignant song.
“It was actually in August 2020 after John Hume’s passing that I felt compelled to do something to celebrate his contribution to the peace process.
“I decided I would record The Town I Love so Well.
“I put it up on Facebook and it went- I’ll call it mini viral.
“It got over 4,000 views in a week which was crazy and then the Northern Ireland Film Screen Archive picked it up and they wanted to collect it as part of their Irish heritage and memorabilia associated with John Hume and his life.
“That was incredible.
“It’s a really special piece for me.”
It was her maternal granny that told Amy and her cousin Elysha Brennan to go for the Rose of Tralee when they were young girls.
“I can just imagine what her face would be like now if she could see that I was doing this.”
Amy had just been crowned when she returned to Ireland to play at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival and had a meaningful encounter with some young people in Lismore, Co. Waterford.
“After doing my concert, the lady that was driving me spotted a group of kids and their mums and she says, ‘Want to meet them?’
“I said, ‘I’d love to’.
“It turned out that they were called The Capabilities Club.
“It was kids with disabilities and their mums take them out at the weekend around Lismore.
“It was just so lovely because my mum has done so much work with kids with disabilities up in Donegal.
“That was so special, just to get opportunities to meet people and connect to communities.”
Karaoke for a Cause takes place at the Claddagh Ring, Hendon on 7 July, starting at 8pm.
It is a free event. Any local businesses who want to donate prizes for raffles or auction should email [email protected].
For more information on the club, click here.