Well, what a very special concert that was First of all, thanks to Karsten for the very prompt first photo's of Hayley (don't know how you did it in view of the strict rules). Thanks also to Grant, Ben & Nicola for your reports. It was a great pleasure to meet you for the first time Ben - so glad you got a lift home and didn't have to wait hours for the coach!! I am so sorry not have got to speak to your properly Nicola but I am so pleased that you enjoyed the concert so much
OK, so where do I start - well at the beginning I guess!!
For the first time in 4 years (the last time Hayley came to Banbury), I didn't have to factor in any time for travel, as the venue is just a mile down the road from my home. I arrived at the church on time (haha) at 2.30pm to find Grant, Karsten, Paddy, Martin & Ben waiting outside. Ben introduced himself and we settled down to wait for Hayley. It wasn't too long later when Hayley's mini bus came into site and parked up in the adjacent car park. Gianmarco got out of the van and after a quick 'hello' made his way to the church to find out where Hayley & Team had to go.
Eventually, the rest of the team made their way to the church door, leaving Hayley to follow on. After quickly signing a couple of things, I stepped forward and shook Hayley's hand, officially welcoming her back to Banbury after four years. I told her that it was here, on the 17th November 2005 that I experienced my first ever concert and that here I am now, just about to experience my 40th ! Hayley seemed to appreciate the welcome and I was so pleased that I had the opportunity to do it.
As the others have mentioned, with Hayley safely inside the church, we went off into town to find something to eat & drink - and to try to keep warm, as it was a cold day.
We arrived back at the church to find that 4 other people had already formed a queue at the main Church door, despite the fact that it was just 5.15pm. However, the kind venue staff actually opened the doors at 6.20pm and after showing my ticket to Hannah (bedlam management), made my way to the front and took the first pew available to the general public, which was the second row back. I had a very good view of the whole stage from where i was sitting. The pew in front was reserved parents of the children in the choir and I was pleasantly surprised to meet one of my clients, who's daughter, Emily, is the head chorister at St Marys and introduced the choir to the audience.
At 7.30pm. after some house notices, the lights went dim and the scene was set.
The concert has already been covered in some detail and so I will just give you my impressions. WOW - FANTASTIC - ONE OF THE BEST EVER PERFORMANCES from Hayley that I have heard!
I am now so pleased that I hadn't heard the songs before the concert - they were fresh and new to my ears and NOW I cant wait to re-live the experience when my CD arrives. As others had mentioned, the audience was so very enthusiastic and warm and this was really appreciated by all the performers. The applause for the encore was deafening and when Hayley came back to stage and said "shall we do one more then" some of the audience were calling out Hayley songs - quite a number of people were obviously Hayley fans. Infact, we got 2 encores
I spoke to Hannah & the Raven girls afterwards, who told me that it was fantastic audience - the best yet. I felt very proud that the people of my home town had given Hayley such a warm and very enthusiastic welcome.
Hayley had told us that she wouldn't be doing a signing. However, Raven were signing after the show and a little later, still in her red performance dress, Hayley appeared, to the delight of the children in the choir, who all wanted to meet her and get their programmes signed. I had a brief word with Gianmarco, who told me that as the audience had given her such a great reception, she had changed her mind.
It was a very unexpected treat - I too got my programme signed, with a special message! I also got to have my photo taken with Hayley, as like Grant, it had been some time since my last photo
By now, the rest of the crowd had mostly gone and we said our goodbyes to Hayley and each other and that brought the end of a simply wonderful evening.
Thanks to all my fellow HWI friends for your company. Thanks to the Bedlam team, Raven, Tim & Andy and thanks of course to Hayley for another stunning performance.
I hadn't realised that Gianmarco had told you that Hayley had changed her mind about doing a signing - pity someone didn't think quickly enough to find her a table and chair; although she seemed pretty happy circulating amongst the children. It was wonderful watching the looks of awe on their faces when they were close to Hayley.