How a Norfolk singer became an overnight sensation on Britain’s Got Talent aged 89
PUBLISHED: 18:00 22 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:23 23 November 2019
Just talking to him for a short while puts a spring in your step and a smile on your face. He was an overnight sensation and he is a truly lovely man with a heart of gold.
On Monday our very own - he is an adopted Norfolk boy - winner of Britain's Got Talent took to the stage at the London Palladium to take part in the Royal Variety Performance which will be watched by millions of television viewers across the world in the coming weeks.
In the summer he recorded an album with Decca of his favourite songs and now a new book My Story: How Love Changed Everything has just arrived in the shops.
Oh, and next year he is off on tour when he will be celebrating his 90th birthday.
"I still can't believe what has happened to me," said Colin, who lived at Thorpe St Andrew, with his beloved wife Joan for many years. "She was the love of my life," said Colin.
She died in his arms three years ago and it was then he decided to go to live in London to be nearer his family and moved into the Great Hospital becoming a Chelsea Pensioner.
Now this former soldier has become an international superstar...capturing our hearts with his moving songs and performances.
The oldest winner of the talent show and the most mature singer to ever sign a debut record deal.
"Colin," said Simon Cowell, "is an inspiration to us."
He most certainly is. A bright ray of sunshine in what can be a dark and gloomy world.
Has the fame and fortune gone to his head. Not likely! He has his feet firmly on the ground.
"By rights," says Colin, "none of this should have happened to me.
"In March 2020 I turn 90. Who has heard of an 89-year-old winner of a reality talent show? Normally these shows are set up to discover fresh new talent with the view of developing them into a hugely successful global star.
"But I am 89. I have had two heart attacks, am not the most agile fella around and I have no interest in falling out of nightclubs," he says.
So just who is this Colin Thackery and why did he and his wife move to Norfolk?
Well, unlike so many so-called "celebrities" today, Colin has a real story to tell covering a good deal of the world.
In his new book he writes in such a great way about his life and times as a soldier, a musician, civvy street, living in Thorpe St Andrew and being a member of Norfolk Opera Players.
Born in London in 1930 he helped the Air Raid Wardens during the Second World War. Not always an angel, in 1945 a policeman gave him a choice. Borstal or the Army?
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He opted for the Army. "In two short years I had transformed myself from a right little tinker to a slightly more responsible young soldier."
He met Joan on a posting to Durham. They fell in love and were married but two weeks later Colin was posted to Korea where he endured horrific conditions, being shot at, ambushed and suffered from terrible frostbite.
Colin went on to be a professional soldier serving around the world for a quarter of a century before heading into civvy street and arriving in Norfolk.
He admits the Army changed him from a scruffy little urchin with no education to someone with a good standard of education and years of experience. But it was his dear wife Joan who made him so happy. "She changed my life, She gave me stability."
Throughout his life he has always loved singing and making music.
Thanks to an old Army mate he got a job in Norfolk and they bought their first-ever home in Thorpe St Andrew.
"To be honest I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't find living in Norwich easy. Everything was different. It was hard to settle into the 'real' world," he admitted.
Eventually he got a better job as a health and safety officer. His daughter Dawn and Peter settled down and he and Joan joined the Norfolk Opera Players, the renowned theatrical company founded by Robert and Audrey Yates.
They were rehearsing Carmen at the Theatre Royal and were looking for someone to join the chorus and teach the soldiers to use swords and march. "I was bursting with joy, The chance to sing on stage and relive my military past - what more could I ask for?"
And that's how it started. His new career and Joan soon joined the Players as well.
"We stayed with the Norfolk Opera Players for 25 wonderful years, enjoying every moment of the musical madness," said Colin.
"Joan took on various singing roles, as well as fulfilling her dream of becoming wardrobe mistress, while I became vice-chairman of the society," he added.
They were happy times and they loved living in Norfolk...and how the people loved them.
After Joan died he moved to London to be near his children and grandchildren, slipped into his Scarlets,
Then one night he was singing some ballads in the club room at the Royal Hospital.
He explained: "I said to this chap if you don't use your voice as you get older you will lose it. Then someone challenged me to go on that Britain's Got Talent."
A while later this former tearaway with few prospects walked on to the stage in front of the judges...the rest, as they say is history,
What about the next generation? Are they really as bad as some "mature" tend to think?
"There are so many people who are striving to make the world a better place and we should be proud of them and not rush to put them down," he said.
Colin tells his own wonderful story in his new book: My Story: How Love Changed Everything published by Octopus Books at £20. It is also available in ebook & audiobook. www.octopusbooks.co.uk There is also a Decca Album Love Changes Everything featuring some of his favourite songs out for Christmas.
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