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Outgoing Camden mayor pays tribute to ‘Queen of Camden’ Amy Winehouse after raising £70k for charity

Cllr Jonathan Simpson (left) and new mayor Cllr Lazzarro Pietragnoli. Cllr Jonathan Simpson (left) and new mayor Cllr Lazzarro Pietragnoli.

Friday, June 13, 2014
6:23 PM

Camden councillor Jonathan Simpson bid an emotional farewell to a record-breaking year as mayor this week having raised £70,000 for his chosen charity, the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

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The Labour councillor’s second mayoral term came to an end at Camden Town Hall on Wednesday as Cllr Lazzaro Pietragnoli was sworn in as the borough’s mayor for the next 12 months.

Cllr Simpson broke the record for money raised in a mayoral year, reaching the £70,000 mark with fundraising events throughout the year.

All the money raised will go to the foundation set up in memory of world-famous singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who was found dead at her home in Camden Square, Camden Town, in 2011.

The foundation works to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people.

Ms Winehouse’s parents, Mitch and Janice, took their seats in the council chamber on Wednesday and were moved to tears by Cllr Simpson’s farewell speech.

He told the packed hall: “If Amy was watching us now she’d probably have a slight sneer in her face and say, ‘What on earth are you doing?’, in that way that Mitch and Janice and Richard will remember.

“But I think she would undoubtedly be hugely, hugely proud of the borough that she loved. So the Queen of Camden’s legacy is going to live on for many, many years and it’s been a privilege supporting it.”

Cllr Angela Mason, cabinet member for children, addressed the chamber to pay tribute to Cllr Simpson’s contribution to the gay community in Camden.

She said: “I think it is especially poignant and significant that you became the mayor in Camden who conducted the first UK same-sex marriage ceremony. It’s a wonderful achievement.

“It’s a sign of what a long way we have all come as a society but it’s also a tribute to the contribution and courage of people like Jonathan in the long, long struggle for justice and equal rights.

“I always say, things don’t change, people change things and you certainly have Jonathan.”

Camden Conservatives leader Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland also gave thanks to Cllr Simpson, adding: “It’s been so lovely working with you. I’ve been to so many of your events. There’s always a really diverse group of people from so many different backgrounds.

“Thank you for doing what I think many would have thought was impossible - to make local government really cool!”

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