By David Hennessy
London Irish Centre, Camden was the venue for a night of entertainment in the name of two good causes last Thursday May 23. Supported by the Amy Winehouse Foundation and headlined by Mitch Winehouse and his big band, the event MC’d by Ray D’Arcy of Today FM was raising funds for Lauralynn House, the independent children’s hospice in Ireland, and the London Irish Centre charity. Entertainment was provided by musicians Mick Flannery and Wallis Bird, award winning comedian Aisling Bea and Mitch Winehouse himself. Funds were raised with a raffle and silent auction with prizes such as a signed Arsenal shirt, a 46 inch television, dinner at Corrigan’s, Mayfair and memorabilia donated by Imelda May and Damien Dempsey up for grabs. The London Rose Grace Kenny and Absolute Radio’s Maggie Doyle were among those who attended.
Mitch Winehouse told The Irish World how pleased he was with the night: “It’s a great turn out and the Irish community has come out in strength along with other people to support the Irish Centre in London so it’s terrific. It’s home turf because Amy had a house twenty doors down so it’s almost like singing in her lounge really so it’s very nice to be here supporting the centre.”
Mitch and his family have a great relationship with the Irish Centre and one that is set to continue: “We’re here to stay. We have a home in Camden and we love living here and the Irish Centre are here to stay so it looks like we’ll have a long and happy collaboration.”
On July 23, it will be two years since the tragic death of Mitch’s daughter, multi-award winning singer daughter Amy, passed away and September 14 is what would have been her 30th birthday: “During the month of September which would have been Amy’s 30th birthday, on September 14,, we’ve got lots of gigs happening and lots of fundraising lots of fun and of course, we have Amy’s statue being unveiled at The Roundhouse on her birthday. That’s also going to be wonderful.”
The night began with Ray D’Arcy explaining how all the charities came to be involved. When Mitch Winehouse travelled to Ireland to talk on Ray’s radio show in 2011, the album Lioness: Hidden Treasures was freshly released with money from UK sales going towards the Amy Winehouse Foundation. Thinking it was unfair to take money out of Ireland, Mitch chose LauraLynn House to benefit from its Irish sales.
Ray then told the heart breaking story of how the children’s hospice came about. Brendan and Jane McKenna lost two daughters, Laura and Lynn, at young ages. Laura was born with a heart defect and passed away aged four. To add to the parents’ sorrow, 13 year old Lynn was diagnosed with leukaemia on the very day her sister passed away. So that some good may come out of such an awful situation, Brendan and Jane set up LauraLynn House to provide care for children with life limiting conditions or illness. There was also a presentation by Jeff Moore, director of Welfare at the London Irish Centre, about the work of the London Irish Centre, helping Irish people in need.
Cork singer-songwriter Mick Flannery got the entertainment underway with some of his ballads while Wallis Bird entertained with her humorous comments as well as musical talent. The laughs were provided by Aisling Bea, recognizable from her appearances in BBC’s Dead Boss and ITV’s The Town, who won last year’s So You Think You’re Funny? At Edinburgh Festival and brought her award winning show to the stage. The night’s entertainment was rounded off by Mitch Winehouse who singing the hits of Frank Sinatra, encouraged the crowd to take to the dance floor, a request that was obliged.
For the full report, see the June 1 print edition of The Irish World.