Was grime star Stormzy the mystery benefactor who donated a cool £1million towards a youth centre to be built in the north of the borough?
That’s one suggestion after it was announced that an anonymous donor handed over £1million towards the building costs of the Legacy Youth Zone, planned for a site on Whitehorse Road, not far from the world-famous BRIT School.
“I really don’t know who the donor might be,” one senior council figure said at the weekend. “And if I did, I couldn’t tell you.
“It’s clearly someone of considerable wealth, and someone for whom provision of decent facilities for the youth of Selhurst and South Norwood is important.”
Other stars associated with the area and suggested as potential sources of such generosity include Adele, the award-winning singer who attended the BRIT School, and Tom Holland, another former BRIT pupil and the star of the latest Spider-Man movie.
From the business world, some have suggested Steve Parish, the chairman of Crystal Palace football club, or Chris Philp, the MP for Croydon South.
“But it seems less likely it will be Adele, who has tended to be more associated with north London recently, while Tom Holland, who was very successful in Billy Elliot on stage in the West End, is only at the start of his career and probably hasn’t built up sufficient wealth just yet to afford such generosity.
“There’s little that Parish does which he doesn’t take credit for or involve the football club. Anonymous donations aren’t really his style. As for Philp, well he’s a Tory anyway, but he’s not really been that successful in business, however he tries to pretend he’s some sort of mogul.”
Stormzy’s rapping career began in a Croydon youth club in his teens.
He was recently the subject of bootleg posters encouraging the borough’s youth to get out and vote, and to vote Labour to oust Gavin Barwell as MP for Croydon Central. Conservative Barwell lost the seat by 5,500 votes, and Stormzy maintained he had no involvement with the posters.
The MOBO Award-winning 23-year-old hip hop artist, real name Michael Omari, used a poster campaign earlier this year, including outside his old school, Harris Academy South Norwood, with a message, “All my young black kings, rise up man, this is our year”, to promote the launch of his first album, Gang Signs & Prayer. It is the first grime album to reach No1 on the UK Albums Chart.
And in an interview earlier this year, Stormzy said, “If you have a platform and you’re not saying nothing, then what are you really doing with yourself? I love the fact that I am able to say things and it resonates. With that comes great responsibility.”
Whether Stomzy has the means to make such a massive donation for a youth club in his old neighbourhood is questionable: estimates of his net worth put it at £1.5million. No one from his office was prepared to comment today.
The Legacy Youth Zone had a £6million capital target. It received a further £1million from the Queen’s Trust, on top of an initial £3.25million from Croydon Council, while The Stone Family Foundation and The Fidelity Foundation made contributions of £500,000 and £250,000 respectively.
An additional £300,000 per year has been committed by the council for the first three years to cover part of the running costs.
The project will be run by charity, OnSide, which has already raised half of the estimated £700,000 they will need to make up the remainder.
OnSide’s project director Dr Mark Ward, said: “We’re delighted with the fantastic progress we’ve made on Croydon’s Legacy Youth Zone. I’d like to say a huge thank-you to all those partners, funders and supporters who have helped get us to this position.
“The new centre will provide Croydon’s young people with a safe and inspiring place to spend their leisure time and compliment the great youth provision already on offer across the borough.”
The centre will be part of a network of 14 Youth Zones run by OnSide around the country. A full planning application is expected to be submitted this summer to allow the centre to be opened in autumn 2018.
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