'You are what this show is all about' - Simon Cowell praises Norfolk 89-year-old for moving vocal tribute to late wife
PUBLISHED: 21:15 11 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:25 12 May 2019
'She was the wind beneath my wings, so I sang the song for her' - Norfolk's Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery reduces Britan's Got Talent judges and audience to tears in tribute to late wife Joan.
Norfolk's Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery didn't leave a dry eye in the house after singing a moving tribute on Britain's Got Talent to the beloved wife who died in his arms.
Before his performance on the ITV talent show, the audience heard how the former Thorpe St Andrew resident and Korean War veteran had been singing since he was eight and had married wife Joan in 1950.
Mr Thackery said: "I never got any promotion in the army before I met her, so anywhere I got was due to her gentle support all the way."
He went on to explain that in December 2016, Joan had called out to him from her chair and he "knew she was dying". She passed away in his arms after 66 years of marriage and, the following year, he moved to his new home at The Royal Hospital.
Telling judges he would be singing Wind Beneath My Wings, the tear-jerking anthem from rom-com Beaches made famous by Bette Midler, Mr Thackery said: "It's in tribute to a really lovely lady who I love: my wife…I miss her like mad, I talk to her all the time. She was, really, the wind beneath my wings."
Following his beautiful rendition of the song, judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden Alesha Dixon and David Walliams jumped to their feet, along with the studio audience, and gave Mr Thackery a standing ovation.
Overwhelmed and in the full Scarlets, the uniform of the Chelsea Pensioners, with his service medals glinting under the lights, Colin stood to hear the opinion of the judges.
"There's not a dry eye in the house - it was just the most perfect tribute and you sang with such heart," said Walliams, while Dixon added: "I really, really loved that, you showed everyone that it's never too late to do what you love."
Amanda Holden heaped praise on Mr Thackery and said he had made her think differently about the well-known song: "All of the men and women who fought for our country are the wind beneath our wings," she said.
Notoriously difficult judge and show formulator Simon Cowell was equally impressed.
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He said: "You are going to have a moment. It was sincere and it was real and you are what this show is all about. Thank you."
With a resounding four yeses from the judges, Mr Thackery is through to the next round of the show where the top prize is a slot at the Royal Variety Show on November 18.
Mr Thackery left the Royal Artillery as an AIG (instructor in gunnery) and he and Jean were well-known in Norwich for the part they played in musical and theatrical productions in the county.
Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Thackery said the idea to appear on BGT came after he and a friend had entertained other Chelsea Pensioners with a variety of songs.
"A gentleman said to me that I should do something about my voice," he laughed. "I said 'why? Is there something wrong with it?' and he said 'no, quite the opposite!' and suggested I enter the show.
"I spoke to one of the managers at Chelsea and she agreed. We filled in the form and that's how it started!"
He added that he hoped Norfolk would be proud of his performance and sent his love to his friends in the county.
"I do miss Norfolk and I have many, many friends there who I also miss," he said
"The people that know me won't be surprised that I did this, but I'd like to think that they will enjoy the song.
"Joan would have been really chuffed to see me on stage."