Jack and I’s extraordinary day performing at the O2 Arena
Last year, Jack and Matthew joined a 10-charity super group Choirs With Purpose to release the album ‘Stand Together’. Each charity recorded a song to be featured, and as part of the Anstee Bridge Choir, Jack and Mathew recorded a cover of Heather Small’s ‘Proud’.
The charities, with 2003 Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus, then joined forces to record the album’s lead single ‘We All Stand Together’ in their attempt for Christmas number one. Whilst not quite reaching number one, sales from the album and lead single raised thousands for each of the respective charities, and successfully spread the message of hope, peace and unity across the country.
Off the back of this, the charities were rewarded with the once in a lifetime opportunity of performing in front of 10,000 people at the O2 Arena.
Here, Matthew, Jack’s support worker, blogs on their extraordinary day.
We were in high spirits and could not help one last practice
So the big day was finally upon us. Jack and I woke up nice and early, 6.30 am to be precise. We had to be at the O2 Arena for 9am sharp, so we had a quick bit of breakfast and left to hop on the train. We were in high spirits and could not help one last practice even if we were on a packed morning rush hour train! After a quick stop off at McDonald’s, we jumped on the underground and arrived at the O2 just in time.
We were greeted by the Choirs with Purpose’s project manager Jim Hawkin and soon after met with the other choir members who were standing nervously backstage. Jack and I then took a moment to take in our surroundings and were amazed by the sheer size of the arena. It holds 20,000 at full capacity, and we were going to perform here in a couple of hours! We spent the next two hours practising. Jack was on top form and seeing how calm he was really helped me with my nerves.
The corridors were lined with plaques from some of the biggest artists in the world
Once we had finished practice, it was time for lunch. On our way to the dining hall, we noticed that the corridors were lined with plaques from some of the biggest artists in the world. Jack was excited to come across Little Mix’s plaque, and let out a shout when he found that of the Gorillaz. We then played a game of who could find Lee Evans’ plaque the fastest. Frantically running up and down the corridors, we both somehow found it at the exact same time and buckled with laughter.
After lunch, we had some time to spare, so Jack and I went exploring. We came across cable cars that go across the Thames and back. Jack loves any form of transport and so was ecstatic when he saw how high they went. With my fear of heights, it’s fair to say I wasn’t so ecstatic but had to put on a brave face! We spent the next half an hour looking around London and Jack managed to spot Wembley in the distance.
He was fantastic and sung at the top of his voice
We rushed back to the O2 and met back up with the rest of the choir. The nerves were really starting to get to us but after a final rehearsal and the support of the choir members, we soon settled down and were ready to take to the stage. It’s showtime!
We lined up as practised and came out to a crowd of 10,000 people. What a feeling! We started with our song and then went into our lead single ‘We All Stand Together’ with the other choirs. Standing side by side with Jack filled me with the greatest sense of pride. He was fantastic and sung at the top of his voice.
After the performance, members of the choir, including Michelle McManus, congratulated Jack on how well he had done.
We were still buzzing on the train back home. We honestly couldn’t get over how amazing the day had been, and I feel honoured to have shared this experience with Jack.
It’s days like this that make me love my job!
Jack and I have been inspired to find another choir and we’re currently on the lookout for a local group to join. The confidence and skills that Jack has developed throughout this experience have led to him joining other musical groups such as the Landmark Centre, who host a variety of different workshops.
Overall, it was an amazing day and something that the both of us will never forget. It’s days like this that make me love my job!
Written by Matthew Campbell, Support Worker in Richmond