In November this year, I got the biggest surprise of my life! A moment which I could have never imagined. And this is how it happened...
What's my connection with the RNLI?...
When I’m not away on tour, I’m a volunteer Helmsman for Ilfracombe RNLI. Something which I’m incredibly proud to have been doing for the last 7 years. It’s a complete contrast to what I do on stage and I love it!
Meeting Ashley Banjo
On a normal November afternoon, I walked into the station for what I thought was a routine exercise on our Shannon Class, All Weather Lifeboat. As I walked into the crew room I passed an unusual yet strangely familiar face. It was Ashley Banjo. ASHLEY BANJO!? …"What’s he doing here?"
The Set Up
I was told that ITV had turned up to do some filming for a documentary on the RNLI. (Turns out Ashley and ITV had an extra item on their agenda... me!)
Having recently featured on BBC’s Saving Lives At Sea, it wasn’t unusual to have camera crews at the station. So I got kitted up with Ashley and the rest of the crew and we took to the water.
While we were afloat Ashley got his hands dirty with us as we took him through a man overboard drill and showed him around our Lifeboat. The first time he’d ever been on one in fact.
Later that evening we ended up back at the station and were interviewed by Ashley. It was at the end of the interview that he revealed he’d been keeping quite a secret. And so had my fellow crew mates.
He revealed that he wasn’t filming for a documentary but in fact an ITV Christmas Special celebrating the work of the emergency services and performers who work within them.
He invited me to the ITV studios in London to perform a song with my band to represent the RNLI. I was completely gob smacked!
Performance of a Lifetime
Me and the band headed up to London's ITV Studio to perform Michael Bublé’s massive Christmas hit “Santa Clause is Coming to Town. It was an incredible prospect. With my 9 piece band, a live 500 strong studio audience and a stage fit for Michael Bublé himself, this was going to have to be the performance of a lifetime.
There were no second chances. No more time for rehearsal. This was it. But strangely I felt completely ready. Like it was a moment that I’d been building up to for the last 14 years. I was so ready.
Having spent the day sound checking and relaxing back stage in the company of Michael Ball, Alfie Bow and Leona Lewis, there was just one thing left to do. Go out and smash it!
Watching the other performers take to the stage before us, we knew the bar was high. Such a incredible, talented people had gone before us and we knew there were plenty to follow us too.
So we took to the stage and did our thing.
To watch the performance again, click the button to visit ITV's website Catch up on the ITV Hub