Axe falls on Harrogate's popular AMP Awards

AMP Awards 2016 winners Two Tone Rust at the Royal Hall in Harrogate
AMP Awards 2016 winners Two Tone Rust at the Royal Hall in Harrogate

A massively successful Harrogate-based music and business skills competition for schools which became the biggest of its kind in the UK has been forced to call it a day.

The AMP Awards has showcased and improved the talents of thousands of young musicians, entrepreneurs and photographers since two local school teachers Marian Farrar of St Aidan's High School and Josh Hill of Boroughbridge High School hatched the idea in 2007.

Originally a Harrogate district-only contest held annually in Harrogate, this carefully-crafted event expanded rapidly to hold similar events in every major city in Yorkshire.

Known for its high standards and close relationships with both local businesses and charities, the final at the Royal Hall would see the teenage rock bands from schools from Harrogate, Ripon, Knaresborough, Pateley Bridge and more play in front of hundreds of screaming fans while, behind the scenes, their fellow pupils took charge of marketing and front of house duties.

But the cost of producing such a major success each year eventually overwhelmed small but incredibly hard-working team.

Organisers Marian Farrar and Josh Hill said: "Despite recently receiving the Duke of York Community Initiative Award and countless testimonials from students, teachers, businesses and creative industry professionals, it has not been possible to secure funding to continue the programme.

"The AMP Awards Team, which has grown since incorporation as a Community Interest Company to include founding directors Jacqueline Baker, Jane Green and Rick Parsons, have reluctantly decided to end any further operation for the foreseeable future.

So influential was the AMP Awards, spurring on impressive young bands such as Purple Mafia, Book of Job, Two Tone Rust and Summer City, that many say it raised the standard of the whole young rock scene in the Harrogate district.

Josh Hill said: "It’s extremely hard for us to stop doing something that has been so successful and so widely appreciated and acknowledged by students, teachers, business mentors and professional musicians throughout Yorkshire.

"We may not be able to produce AMP Awards 2017 but we hope to keep evolving and to work with schools on an individual basis to continue what we know has been a valuable contribution to the creative output and ambitions of young people across the county."

But there is at least one silver lining to the demise of the AMP Awards.

The AMP Awards team have encouraged students involved in each regional challenge to collectively raise money for Pump Aid, their Charity partner since the outset.

Marian Farrar said: " We are very proud to announce that Pump Aid will be installing a 3rd AMP Awards funded water pump within the next few weeks, in a village called Kachere in Malawi.

"Together with our two other pumps in Chinkoma and Mphunda this represents the amazing gift of ‘water for life’ for hundreds of African people from the young people of Yorkshire."