Graeme Culliford reports from St Lucia in this exclusive report in London’s Mirror newspaper. Please follow the link below to the original report and additional photographs.
Amy Winehouse was in the middle of adopting a poor St Lucian girl before she died.
The troubled singer had started the process of becoming a mum to 10-year-old Dannika Augustine, who she met on the idyllic Caribbean island.
Amy had booked her ticket to visit the schoolgirl next week. The child’s grandmother revealed the singer had already hired lawyers for the adoption, but her plans were cut short by her sudden death last week aged just 27.
Pretty Dannika was living in poverty with her single mum, who was struggling to feed her, when Amy took her under her wing during one of her many stays on the island over the last two years.
Devastated Dannika said: “Amy was already my mother. I would call her mum and she would call me her daughter. She took care of me and we had fun together. I loved her and she loved me.
“She was the most amazing person and I was looking forward to living with her here or in London. I cannot believe she is gone. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Amy met Dannika through the girl’s grandmother, Marjorie Lambert, 57, who runs a beach bar, in 2009.
She said: “Amy loved Dannika with all her heart. I don’t know why Amy took to Dannika above all the other children on the island, but from the moment they met they were inseparable. They would spend all day playing, horse-riding and walking up and down the beach hand-in-hand.
“Amy used to beg me: ‘I want to adopt Dannika. I want to take her to England.’ She was prepared to move to St Lucia to be her full-time mum.
“Amy wanted to have a child so bad. If she had not died, there is no doubt she would be here in St Lucia completing the adoption process. There is no way she would have done what she did to herself if Dannika was with her.”
She said Dannika’s mother, Nadia Germaine, 31, was willing to give her daughter up for adoption because she could not find a job and was struggling to bring up her family.
She and Dannika’s father split soon after the child was born, but he was also consulted about the adoption.
Jobless Vic Augustine, 35, who lives in Germany, said: “Amy called me from my mother’s mobile phone. She said: ‘Hello, Marjorie’s lovely son. I wanted to talk to you because I feel like you are my brother. Marjorie has become like a mother to me.’ Then she said: ‘I love Dannika so much. She is the most amazing girl.’
“I thanked Amy for taking care of my daughter, and she said: ‘Dannika is taking care of me. I couldn’t live without her.’ Then she said: ‘I would like your permission to adopt Dannika.’
“Obviously it was difficult for me, because living in Germany, I miss Dannika very much. But my mother had told me about Amy and I knew she could give my daughter a wonderful life. I said if my mum thought it was a good idea, then it was OK with me. I also spoke to Dannika’s mother and she said she would agree to it.
“Amy phoned me two more times over the next month. She was serious about it.
“When we heard she died we were so shocked, and poor Dannika is so upset. This is very difficult for her.”
Marjorie runs a bar next to the Cotton Bay Village Resort where Amy lived for much of the past three years in a £2,000-a-night villa. She last spoke to her on the phone weeks ago, when Amy was making plans to return to St Lucia next month.
She said: “Amy sounded weak and down. She asked how I was and said: ‘Tell everybody I will be back in St Lucia soon.’
“I was expecting her here next week. I couldn’t believe it when my friend in London told me she had died.
“Amy was such a good person. She wanted to help everyone. I know she had her problems, but in St Lucia she was a much better person than people knew in the UK. She was drug-free and normal here. I never worried about Dannika being with Amy.
“If she had stayed here, I am convinced she would still be alive.
“When Amy first came into my bar, about three years ago, she looked weak and skinny.
“She looked down, troubled. But I did my best to help her get better. I would insist that she ate food. “I’d tell her: ‘You have to love yourself. You are beautiful, don’t listen to what people say. You are Amy, you are strong, you are a lioness.’ She said: ‘Oh mamma, you are trying to flatter me.’ She didn’t believe it. She was insecure. She needed someone to tell her who she was.”
Marjorie, who last saw Winehouse when she visited the island in November, added: “Amy always wanted to drink, but I would not let her drink before she had something to eat.
“Amy was never happier than when she was in St Lucia. We miss her so much. I keep thinking she is going to walk in and give me a big hug like she always used to.”