Locals in Tillicoultry all turn out for Gamu


By Amanda MacMillan

GAMU fever swept her adopted hometown of Tillicoultry in Clackmannanshire on Wednesday as around 100 fans gathered outside her flat in a defiant show of support for the X Factor sensation.

Toddlers, schoolkids and silver haired grannies flocked armed with hand painted posters calling for her to be allowed to stay in the competition – and the UK.

Gamu faces being deported after allegations her mum Nokuthula Ngazana claimed benefits which she shouldn’t have.

Under the terms of a visa allowing the family to live in Britain the UK Border Agency are now said to moving to send them back to poverty in Zimbabwe.

And it was thought to be the main reason why she was denied the chance to make it through to the finals of the X Factor leaving show bosses open to claims of fixing the contest.

However there was no doubt the overwhelming strength of feeling and affection  for the young family from locals who came from as far as Alva and Sauchie to throw their support behind the talented 18-year-old.

Some local residents used large pieces of card and pens to make posters in support of the African-born singer.

Little Shanice Lovell, three, and her mum Charlene Hunter, 22, from Sauchie pulled out blue paint and a paintbrush to make a large Gamu banner.

When finished the little tot jumped up and down and began chanting “Gamu, Gamu, Gamu!”

Other banners read ‘We love you xx’ and ‘Gamu you’re the X Factor’.

Janet Kane, 76, from Alva, also turned out.

She said: “It’s such a shame.”

Gamu’s mother Nokuthula appeared distressed at her front door and refused to comment about the possibility of going back to Zimbabwe or about the possibility of her daughter returning to the X Factor competition.

Her two sons were said to have been so upset they were sent home early from school. The school could not confirm.

Gamu herself spoke briefly through the door and said that she was unable to comment.

She said only: “I can’t.”

Natalie Johnston, 18, a barmaid from Sauchie, said: “We are just hoping to catch a glimpse of her.

“I don’t think she should have got put out.”

Another local, Annette McCabe, 41, from Alva, thought i terrible the family may be getting sent out the country.

She said: “I think it’s disgraceful. Someone should help her.

“I think that Gamu would have won the competition.

“We actually thought that Simon Cowell might be here today but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

“Gamu was at school with my daughter and when I heard her sing at concerts I was crying.

“She has a beautiful voice.”

Annette’s daughter, Gillian Fyvie, 15, is in fifth year at Alva Academy where Gamu was a former pupil.

She said: “We are here to make sure that she gets a chance of getting back in the competition.

“I was two years below her in school and my sister did singing lessons with her.

“She blew us away when she sang, she was that good.

“The whole school has been very supportive of her and I think that she should have got through instead of Katie.”

Marion Gallacher, 36, manager of the Bridge Inn in Tillicoutry who has kids who go to the same school as Gamu’s younger brothers said: “I saw her perform in the Christmas and summer show at the school.

“She has a voice of an angel. I couldn’t believe it when she got put out.

“I though she was guaranteed to get put through.”

During their lunch hour schoolkids from Alva Academy appeared outside the house of their former school-mate.

Maegan Muirhead, 16, a fifth year pupil, said: “I was in her registration class and I know her from helping out at the school concerts.

“She was amazing. Everyone loved her.

“If you mentioned Alva Academy to anyone they would have thought of Gamu.

“She was a house captain so she was obviously very popular.

“I can imagine that she will be very upset.

“When she did her speech for School Captain she spoke about how she loved Scotland and how she felt accepted.

“I think it’s shocking and it would be sad to lose a talent like hers from Scotland.”

The 18-year-old singer left a legacy behind in her high school Alva Academy.

She regularly took part in school concerts in which she stunned the crowds with her voice.

Miss Nhengu was also head of the Wallace House in which she appealed to her classmates to vote for her.

In the school yearbook Miss Nhengu is described as an “amazing friend” by one of her schoolmates.

Another said “Geebers I love you. What can I say apart from you’re awesome and always will be.”

The teenager, who has nicknames Geebers, Muffin and G, lists Ten Things I Hate About You as her favourite film and Leighton Meester as her favourite celebrity.

Accompanying a photograph of her in her final year in school and a small baby photo, Miss Nhengu says that one of her favourite memories of school was singing in her first Christmas concert.

In ten years she says: “I hope to be somewhere retro, sipping herbal tea wearing something made by someone you don’t know reading her latest article whilst making mindless chit-chat with eccentrics.”

Standing outside her flat one of her classmates, Linzi Herrington, 17, said: “She was a straight A student and always spoke to you.

“She was always involved in school events.

“Her mum is lovely too.”

Kimberley Dawson, 18, added: “She would always talk to you even if she didn’t really know you.”

Other Tillicoultry residents stood outside – some in their pyjamas with cups of tea – hoping to see Gamu – and some of the judges.

A rumour circulating on Facebook that Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole were making an appearance in Tillicoultry attracted more fans.

Some even believed that Simon and Cheryl were already inside the house.

One lady, Shirley Russell, 51, a housewife from Menstrie, was standing at the flat entrance with her autograph book and pen at the ready.

She said: “I hope that they’re in there. I would like to get Gamu’s autograph as well if she comes out.”

Mrs Russell’s friend, Catherine Brander, 47, also had her pen poised. She said: “Gamu should have got put through in the first place. She gave a brilliant performance and they never picked her.

“That’s why they are going to come here today because they made a big mistake.”

Attention was diverted from the flat door for a second as many darted over to a large car.

At first it was thought that it was the appearance of the X Factor judges.

But instead it was a delivery of 10 Dominos pizzas – who see sales surge during X Factor season – for the waiting press.

Police arrived at the street and closed off the road as well as blocking any entry to the flat.

At around half past five a blacked out silver taxi arrived which many thought was the arrival of Cheryl Cole but it was only a member of the X Factor production team.

She was escorted into the residence by police and a small black suitcase was taken from the boot.

Shortly after the taxi left with no passengers.