Winnall is Rocking

Winnall Rock School will be opening its doors to young people from Winnall and Highcliffe for the first time on 24 and 25 July. Lead musician Tobin Thomson and an enthusiastic group of local people have been working away to get the new studios in Winnall Valley Road soundproofed, decorated and fitted out ready for the big day.

Founder Colleen McFarlane, who first came up with the idea as a way of giving young people on the estates a chance to learn how to play and perform music, has spent the last few weekends supervising volunteers as carpets are laid and finishing touches to the paintwork are made. Colleen said "It's been exhausting but it's all worth it."

The studios are located on the first floor of the smart new KAYAC (King Alfred's Youth Activity Centre) and the two organisations share a vision and commitment to providing safe and enjoyable learning and recreational activities for young people in the City.

Winnall Rock School, under Tobin's careful professional guidance, will provide free lessons to young people aged from 10 to 18 from the nearby housing estates, at regular evening and weekend sessions. Tobin says "We're offering young people a place to write, rehearse and record their music, free of charge…'s for young people of any ability and it's for any style of music"

Funding has been pouring in to get this exciting project off the ground, including help from the National Foundation for Youth Music, Winchester City Council, building materials from local business, the Local Network Fund and the Children's Fund. Advice and help from Hampshire County Council's Arts and Youth services have also been invaluable in starting the project up. Tobin's sponsors Laney and Winchester guitar shop Hayward Guitars have advised on kitting out the studios.

WRS Treasurer Paul Pounsford is not happy yet though - he plans to raise further funds to get a recording studio for the project over the next few months. He's also interested in donations of music instruments that are in good condition.

Two young people from Winnall estate, Chad and Tom Pain, won the competition to design a funky new logo for the project earlier this year.

The weekend of 24/25 July is for young people to visit the studios and sign up as members - for more information please contact Winchester City Council's Arts Development Officer Marilyn Michalowicz on 01962 848175.