Colin Thackery Captures a Nation's Hearts

4th June 2019

Colin Thackery - Chelsea Pensioner
Colin Thackery stormed to a sensational victory on the Britain's Got Talent grand final and won universal praise for his heart-rending performances. But what encouraged him to apply to perform on the show?

Having been challenged by a friend, over dinner, to appear on Britain's Got Talent, Colin immediately returned to his berth and downloaded the application form. Having completed the form and sent it in, Colin never thought he would go on to win the hearts of a nation:

I never thought in a million years I'd get to the final. My ambition was to appear just once on television, dressed in the famous Scarlet.

Colin explained to the judges he was performing in memory of his late-wife Joan, who had passed away two-years prior. Singing Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings, one of Joan's favourite songs, Colin had the audience in tears during the audition, including his fellow Chelsea Pensioners who had travelled with him for moral support. Colin explained;

When I came off the stage, I was told that even the Sound Engineers were in tears. The song means so much to me as it was one of Joan's favourites and she really was the wind beneath my wings.

Colin was then selected by the judges to proceed into the live semi-finals, where the public would choose their favourite acts to reach the final. This time, flanked by Chelsea Pensioners and singing wartime favourite; We'll Meet Again, Colin stole the show, winning the Public's vote and reaching the grand final. It was a magic moment with the audience screaming his name so loudly, he couldn't hear what had happened. You can relive the moment in the clip below:

Colin continued to rehearse each day at the Hospital, with Captain Phil Shannon providing valuable guidance and coaching.

On Sunday 2nd June 2019 Colin travelled to the Hammersmith Apollo for the grand final in what would become a life-changing night.

Performing Andrew Lloyd-Webber's classic Love Changes Everything, Colin was joined by more Chelsea Pensioners from the Royal Hospital choir, as well as serving members of the armed forces who cheered on from the audience.

Colin would go on to win the show, and the £250,000 prize, but for Colin it was the chance to sing for Her Majesty the Queen he was most excited by:

I served my Queen for 25-years in the Army, so to have the chance to sing for her was the ultimate. I never expected to make it this far, but to know I will now sing for the Queen at the Palladium, I can die a happy man.

Asked about what he would do with his prize money, Colin was determined:

I would like to give something to the Hospital, it's a charity and they want to improve their music facilities and activity centre. They also want to build a brand-new visitor centre. I would like to be able to provide something towards that, to almost get the project started. I also have a family; children and grandchildren.

But when asked whether Colin would like to do anything for himself, his answer was touching:

I'd love to return to Norway. Joan and I had a wonderful cruise there and I have many memories. One thing I could never convince her to do though is a river cruise, and that's something I'd love to do.

Everyone at the Royal Hospital Chelsea was behind Colin, supporting him every step of the way and are delighted for his victory. Colin jokes that some other veterans have now asked to borrow money, or told him he's a celebrity. His response was pragmatic:

Joan would have been saying to me; 'Don't get above yourself, keep your feet on the ground'. She was a great woman and would always keep me grounded.

Finally we asked Colin if there was anything he would like to say to his fans:

I just want to say how grateful I am for the marvelous support I've had the last few weeks. There's been cards, letters, messages,  It's been absolutely extrordinary. 

You can learn more about Colin's story and his military career, including his time serving during the Korean War. You can also catch up with all of Colin's performances and his winning moment right here.


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