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Russell Watson: The Big Singalong offers hope after a hard year

Stories of everyday heroism have flooded in from across the UK – and further afield – ahead of Russell Watson’s live performance on April 2. Here’s how you can watch.
Russell Watson sings at the Best of British event at the Royal Albert Hall in London, in 2015. Image: Paula Funnell/Flickr

Ahead of Russell Watson’s Big Singalong, fans across the country have shared emotional stories of living through the coronavirus pandemic – and their hope that the People’s Tenor can bring some joy for the people they love.

On April 2, The Big Issue is teaming up with I’m a Celebrity… star Russell Watson for a free online performance to offer a much needed lift to a beleaguered nation.

Readers had the chance to request a song for somebody close to them, and we have been inundated with stories of everyday heroism.

Among the messages was Jo Starkes’s tribute to her fellow NHS staff members at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

“We have all worked so incredibly hard, in new and challenging circumstances,” she said. “We have all felt exhausted, despaired and cried, yet not one of us ever gave up.”

Caroline Woodman got in touch from Canton, near Cardiff, to send a message to her son Matthew, and the support workers that take care of him.

“Matt is my lovely son aged 27,” she said. “He has autism and a learning disability. The pandemic has been really hard for him. He has been cut off from all his friends and activities. I’m so proud of the way he has coped with it all.”

Caroline wanted to express her gratitude for the support workers who take good care of Matthew, saying that she doesn’t think they get enough recognition. “They really are God’s angels on this earth,” she added.

Debbie Walker wrote to us from Helensburgh in Scotland, hoping to give a “boost” to her parents, Linda and Bill Carson, who live in Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria.

They celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on March 27, but Debbie won’t be able to see them.

“I just wanted to wish my mam and dad a very happy golden wedding anniversary. A shout out from Russell would be amazing as they’re both big fans,” she said.

In her message for Linda and Bill, she added: “You’re amazing parents, grandparents, and now great grandparents. We all love and miss you lots and can’t wait to see you again.”

Debbie Grimshaw said she was grateful to be able to dedicate a song to her mum Valerie Leech, who has been unwell this year.

“My mum took ill during lockdown and has ended up in a nursing home,” said Debbie. “Sadly, we’ll never get to see Russell Watson together again.

“I know how much she loves him, and this is just the best thing that could happen right now. For Russell to sing a song for my mom.

“This one’s for you, mum. We love you very, very much.”

These are just some of the stories we’ll be sharing as part of Russell Watson: The Big Singalong, when viewers will also be treated to a selection of songs from his classic repertoire, which includes O sole mio, Ave Maria, Have I Told You Lately and You Are So Beautiful.

Tune in on April 2 at 7pm to see all the dedications and to enjoy an uplifting performance.

‘Russell Watson: The Big Issue Big Singalong’ will stream exclusively on The Big Issue’s YouTube channel on April 2 at 7pm. You can sign up to watch the performance here. Just click on the ‘Set Reminder’ button (example below) to get an alert when we’re about to go live.

Russell Watson YouTube
Screenshot 2021-03-08 at 09.12.10

You can also join the Facebook event here for the latest news on the event.

Dedications are now closed. Thank you to everyone who got in touch. You can watch on April 2 to see your message.