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Pan man sets record straight

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President of the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) Sion Hill Euphonium has refuted claims that his pan side hired professionals, and paid thousands of dollars to arrangers and tuners from Trinidad and Tobago for the 2008 Carnival Season.{{more}}

Warren Knights, who is also the President of the Youlou Pan Movement (YPM), has insisted that no money was paid to the visiting pan men, as stated by Searchlight columnist Sebastian “Bassy” Alexander in his column “The Love Vine” published July 11th, 2008.

Knights indicated that the men, who visited St. Vincent as part of an exchange programme between the Sion Hill-based pan side and its Trinidad based arranger, travelled at their own cost. In exchange for their visit, a number of musicians from Sion Hill will travel to that country during their 2009 carnival festivities.

Knights also refuted that the players were “experts” as stated by Alexander, but instead were mainly youngsters seeking experience.

“Most of the players were teenagers who are of high school age. They were not professionals,” he stated.

According to Knights, the donation made to his steel orchestra by Sponsors, the NLA, was EC$22,500 and not $30,000.

Knights indicated that this donation was used in preparation for the 2008 carnival season, and that a further $5,000 allocated to the summer programme, is yet to be received.

He indicated that the only time he received $30,000, was in the capacity of President of the YPM from St. Vincent Electricity Services Ltd. (VINLEC) for sponsorship of the Junior Panorama Competition.

“Both donations were in the local press; they are on the record.”

In relation to training, Knights indicated that his pan side has been involved in summer camps for youngsters since 1985. “This programme has been turning out more than 30 new players a year,” he insisted.

Knights lamented that Alexander did not do “proper research” before publishing his column.

However, sources close to the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) told Searchlight that in addition to the $22,500 to prepare the band for Carnival, and the $5,000 pledged for the summer programme, more money has since been requested by Sion Hill Euphonium from the NLA. Usually reliable sources indicate that the sum requested is close to $30,000.

When Searchlight contacted Knights, he indicated that the additional money was for “other expenses”, but would not say how much had been requested or what were the “other expenses”.

When contacted by Searchlight, Alexander said his information came from a reliable source and he stands by his article. (JJ)

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