88-year-old Colin Thackery delivered one of the most unforgettable auditions on Britain’s Got Talent by singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” for his late wife Joan. The Korean War Army veteran’s baritone was at once powerful and delicate, and he gave such a moving and genuine tribute to his wife of 66 years.
Someone must have been cutting onions in the auditorium because there weren’t many dry eyes in the room when Thackery was done. While singing the ballad made famous by Bette Midler, the octogenarian gave a real gravitas to the song that kept the audience rapt the entire time. He sang in a striking Army redcoat and his comrades who attended in the same uniform were clearly deeply moved by his singing. Watch the audition for yourself in the video below.
Judge David Walliams noted that Thackery touched the entire room with his performance and said “it was just the most perfect tribute and you sung with such heart that it affected all of us deeply. It was beautiful.” Britain’s Got Talent’s resident true romantic Alesha Dixon was naturally onboard as well, saying “Colin I really, really loved that. You showed to everyone that it’s never too late to do the things you love and to sing about the people that you love. It was wonderful.”
Amanda Holden was likewise impressed, saying “as I was listening to the words, I’d never thought of it before, that all of the men and women that fought for their country are the wind beneath our wings, because if it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be here. Congratulations, it was a lovely tribute.” Thackery leaned into the romantic theme by performing “Love Changes Everything” by Andrew Lloyd Webber later in the series, accompanied by a choir of veterans, as you can see below.
Simon Cowell made the closing comments on Thackery’s audition, saying “you are gonna have a moment. It was sincere and it was real and you are what this show is all about, so thank you.” Surprising no one, the judges then gave four yes votes to the talented veteran.
You may notice that Thackery performed with his military honours, which are from his service in the Army Royal Artillery in Malaya and the Korean War. The retired Warrant Officer Class 2 wore the following medals: the General Service Medal (Malaya), the Korea Medal and the United Nations Korea Medal.
Thackery showed he was the real deal by progressing throughout the series and eventually winning the 13th season of Britain’s Got Talent, taking home £250,000 in prize money. He turned 89 during the season and became the oldest winner in the history of the show. He subsequently sang for the British royal family at Royal Variety Performance and later at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Thackery is now 93 and is living at the Royal Hospital Chelsea retirement home, where he has resided since the passing of his wife. If you would like to see more from Colin Thackery, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Instagram.
Determined: Britain’s Got Talent hopeful Colin Thackery has vowed to win the show so he can perform in front of the Queen
Sweet: The Chelsea Pensioner, 89, told The Mirror his late wife Joan would be ‘delighted’ to see him take to the stage. She passed away three years ago after more than 60 years of marriage
Colin served in the Royal Artillery for 25 years and went to war in Korea just two weeks after marrying Joan.
The war hero lost some of his hearing after coming under attack, but has continued to sing well into his later years, and is the oldest contestant to audition this series.
When asked what his wife would think of his audition, Colin said: ‘Joan had a very good alto voice. In fact, we both sang together in an operatic society. She would have been highly critical, if I’d done anything wrong.
‘She was a typical northern girl, they don’t say a lot, but they think a lot. But she would have been delighted.’
Proud: Colin is the oldest contestant to audition for BGT this series, and still continues to sing despite losing some of his hearing during his time in armed forces
Heroic: The war hero served in the Royal Artillery for 25 years and went to war in Korea just two weeks after marrying Joan
A source has also told MailOnline that fans will see David Walliams’ surprise as Colin take to the stage, as the pair briefly met last year.
They said; ‘David had no knowledge of Colin auditioning prior to him appearing on stage, he had met Colin and had a brief chat whilst researching for his book.
‘David was delighted to see Colin and was blown away by his voice, he had no idea he could sing.’
Fancy seeing you here! A source has also told MailOnline that fans will see David Walliams’ surprise as Colin take to the stage, as the pair briefly met last year (above)
Determined: The veteran said he would ‘die happy’ if he won the chance to perform for Her Majesty, after spending 25 years serving her
David visited the Royal Hospital Chelsea to speak to the Chelsea Pensioners in August 2018 as part of research for his book, and even posted the meeting on Twitter.
Colin had two children and four grandchildren with Joan, and they lived together in Norwich until her death
The veteran – who now lives at the Royal Hospital Chelsea with the Chelsea Pensioners – added: ‘I served her for 25 years, I’d love to sing to [The Queen]. If I did, I would die happy.’
Elated: Of course it remains to be seen whether the judges will give Colin the long-awaited four yeses
Unusual: Also set to appear on the show is 71-year-old Russell T Bird, whose performance it seems will spark some interest from Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon
Superstars: Teen group Chapter 13 will hope to become the nation’s next big boy band
Also set to appear on the show is 71-year-old Russell T Bird, whose performance it seems will spark some interest from Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon.
Brotherhood will offer yet more scares to an already spooky series, while Chapter 13 will hope to become the nation’s next big boy band.
The Kronos Girls will display some showstopping moves, while Ben Hart will offer some extra mystique to the auditions.