HemiHelp Children helping Children Concert

  Cadogan Hall London Saturday  24th February 2007

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We had our rehearsal and fortunately none of us made any mistakes so we were pleased with ourselves and went for lunch, which consisted of whatever we had brought with us. Afterwards as watched as Hayley Westenra had her rehearsal which was great fun, she was very particular about the sound and the lighting being just right, but she was always very nice and polite to the sound man and the lighting crew, she seemed to be so very calm and very confident, and she sang so very well. During a break, I had a chance to meet her and she was happy to sign some of her CD’s that I had brought with me, she was quite happy to chat to me and asked about how my rehearsal had gone. My Dad took a photograph of us too.
 
The time seemed to fly by as we watched the other acts doing their rehearsing, they were all very good. Canon Roger Royle was the host for the evening, I managed to meet him and have a chat with him too, he was really nice and friendly, and treated me like I was a genuine star, and told me how very pleased he was to meet one of the talented young performers before hand, and shook my hand.
I waited with the other children in one of the large dressing rooms back stage, for the time to come when we were needed on stage, fortunately we were in the first half so it wasn’t so long, (less time for us to get nervous) The HemiHelp girls and the music group instructors kept us busy though and made us laugh. We could see and hear the performance on screens which were all over the place which was good, so whatever room you were in you could tell what was going on stage.

When the time came for us to go on, we were ushered out of our dressing room and up the stairs to the area behind the stage, we had to be very quiet at this point, there were signs everywhere saying “quiet please you can be heard on the stage” we could clearly hear the performance that was on the stage before us, then everybody clapped and the lights went down, and our time had arrived, we were told to be quick the only problem was that we had to climb a set of stairs on one side of the stage in complete darkness and get into our allotted positions, this was exceedingly difficult for me, as I have a problem climbing stairs anyway and often fall, fortunately I somehow managed it, without ending up on my face.

Phil was on stage getting our instruments in position as a couple of stage hands were moving items from the previous act, so a lot was going on all around us. I could hear Phil whispering ready from my right and the lights went up and we were totally flooded it took a little while for my eyes to adjust to the change, the lights seemed to be a lot brighter than they were during our rehearsals, I could just see the front row of people in the hall. I could see my Dad and Sister in the front row on my right, everybody was smiling at us, but I still felt a bit nervous, Canon Roger Royle introduced us and we started our performance and everybody clapped and clapped, they seemed to love it and Roger Royle said some nice comments about us as we went back the way we came to our dressing room, all very relieved that it had gone so well and none us had got stage fright, or made any mistakes with our parts.

We had a little wait and then it was time for the interval, we were then led into the Carrington Suite to meet with Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra and other dignitaries and patrons of the HemiHelp charity. There was lots of food and drink in there, but we didn’t get any time to eat or drink anything, as everybody was congratulating us, and shaking our hands and telling us how wonderful everything was.
 
Her Royal Highness then came in to meet us, followed closely by her lady in waiting, and two policemen from the Royal protection squad. She came straight over to us and started to talk to each one of us in turn, my Dad and Laura had come in by then, and they were saying how well we had done when it was my turn to speak to Her Royal Highness, (now for weeks and weeks before the concert, my Dad had been helping me practice my curtsying, which I found very difficult, because of my balance problems, he would often help me by demonstrating how it should be done, and I would usually bow, pretending to be him, we must have done this hundreds of times until I got it right) so when Princess Alexandra spoke to me and my Dad, something totally unexpected happened, I bowed and my Dad did a perfect curtsy, which he tried to turn into a bow without much success afterwards! She didn’t seem to notice (or pretended not to anyway,) she was very pleasant and asked me how I came to be chosen to be in the concert and told me she was very impressed with how well we had all done, and she was having an enjoyable evening, my Dad took some photographs of me with her.

Hayley Westenra was there and chatted to us, she was doing her part last, so she had rather a long wait, she was very easy to talk to and I talked to her quite a bit, my Dad was talking about New Zealand, and how different things were there, as he had been there, he said he knew her home city of Christchurch very well and thought it was one of the loveliest cities he had stayed in which pleased her as she lives there, when she isn’t in her London flat.

The second half of the concert was more relaxed for us, as we had done our bit and been introduced to Princess Alexandra, so we able to just enjoy it. When it was all over we all went back on stage and got a terrific applause and Hayley Westenra and Charlotte Ritchie were presented with a bouquet of flowers each. We all said our goodbyes to everybody and we said goodbye to Hayley Westenra, not to be out done, my Dad managed to get his picture taken with her too, I think it was an amazing evening and one I will never forget as long as I live, especially meeting a member of the Royal Family, but the best bit though for me was meeting Hayley Westenra for the first time and spending time with her, she is such an excellent classical singer, and a wonderful person too

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Us performing in the concert I am second from right

HRH Princess Alexandra and me during the interval

Me on stage looking relieved after the performance