Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Voice in a Millions - fundraising for adoption and fostering

As a top celebrity hairdresser, BAAF Patron Andrew Barton is used to glamour and excitement. But he wasn't quite ready for the amazing time he had helping to raise funds for adoption and fostering at the Voice in a Million Concert at London O2's Arena. Here he shares his experience of that wonderful night.

When I was invited to take part in the Voice in a Million concert at the 02 Arena, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. As a Patron of BAAF and an adopted person I felt honoured to be asked to share my adoption story and talk about the work that BAAF does.

But when I arrived at the 02 and saw 7,500 children rehearsing, and the empty seats which would be filled with an audience of 12,000 people, my stomach started flipping. What had I let myself in for? Would I be able to stand up on that stage and get my words out?
I needn’t have worried. Although I was still nervous, the amazing singing from all the children, especially the young soloists, inspired me. As I walked out I could feel the warmth and support from everyone in the Arena. I can’t put into words the emotions I felt as I spoke about my wonderful parents who adopted me and helped me to become the man I am today.

The sound from all the choirs was incredible. The young vocalists from schools based right across the UK performed a programme of 13 songs, including Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’; the Glee favourite ‘Don’t Stop Believin’; and Guns ‘n’ Roses’ ‘Sweet Child of Mine. It was a spectacular evening of awe-inspiring family entertainment, and a moving musical journey through the story of adoption and fostering.

Adoptive parents Ann Lowde and Gerald and Diane Keeler recited touching poems dedicated to their children. It was all so emotional – everywhere I looked, I saw people trying to discreetly (and not so discreetly) wipe tears from their eyes.

The two and half hours went by so fast. Suddenly I was back on stage for the final time. I joined the children as they ended the show with an amazing encore of ‘I Want a Mum’. When I looked out at the audience all I could see was a mass of smiling faces, cheering and clapping.

After my wedding and being crowned British Hairdresser of the Year, this was one of the best moments of my life. I would like to thank the organisers of Voice in a Million for giving me the opportunity, and all the children for making it such an incredible experience.

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