Susan Boyle still local girl 5 years after fame

Susan Boyle has been part of our lives for five years now; below, Charles Earley at the Bathgate Regal. Picture: BBC
Susan Boyle has been part of our lives for five years now; below, Charles Earley at the Bathgate Regal. Picture: BBC
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IT was an iconic audition that has notched up more than 147 million views on YouTube – the equivalent of one every second of every day since it was uploaded.

But exactly five years after Susan Boyle sprang to stardom singing I Dreamed A Dream for the Britain’s Got Talent panel she’s still a Blackburn girl at heart.

At Bathgate’s Regal Theatre, where the 53-year-old first sang the Les Miserables classic, staff say, as patron, she still continues to support their every step.

Former chairman and volunteer, Charles Earley, 63, said she has continued to help the struggling venue and has returned several times to support local talent.

“We invited her to become patron of the community theatre because she had strong links and it was a good way to recognise the fact that she had become a star. And, of course, the Regal Theatre was one of the places she first performed,” Mr Earley said. “She sees it as an opportunity for other youngsters to do what she did – she’s a brilliant supporter.

“Obviously we are delighted to have such an international star as our patron.”

Mr Earley also said Susan had “overcome so much to get to where she is” but that the star had “not changed” despite her “phenomenal” achievement.

He continued: “She’s come to some concerts at the theatre and she’s just another member of the public. There’s no airs and graces about her – she’s just Susan.”

Despite coming second to dance troop Diversity, the 53-year-old superstar, since dubbed SuBo, has remained in the limelight and gone on to sell more than 19 million albums worldwide as well as knocking Leona Lewis off the top spot when her first album became the UK’s best-selling debut album of all time.

West Lothian is immensely proud of her.

This is evident in a short documentary that has just been made about her by local school children, called Finding Susan Boyle. The project was created by West Lothian Council’s Community Arts team in partnership with Blackburn United Community Football Club and saw the children working with the award-winning filmmaker Tomás Sheridan.

They got an exclusive interview with the star herself, when she told them Blackburn was where she was “born and bred” and that she would not move anywhere else because she liked the people.

West Lothian Council’s executive councillor for culture and leisure and Depute Provost, Dave King, thanked SuBo for taking part in the project.

He added: “On behalf of West Lothian Council, I would like to share how proud we are of Susan Boyle and her incredible success.

“It’s been an amazing five years for her, and I hope she has many more years of success in the future.”

And speaking to the community it’s clear their “local hero” has not changed over the last five years – but is still the “down- to-earth person” she always was.

Caretaker of the Blackburn Community Centre, John Jamieson, said he had known Susan before she was famous and always knew she had talent.

He said: “We are all proud of her for what she has achieved – I have said for years she’s a fantastic singer. She’s a down-to-earth person even though she’s got the money and the fame she still remembers where she’s from and she treats everyone with a lot of respect.

“She’s never changed – she’s a really lovely woman.”

And amongst all the pressures that stardom brings, it appears SuBo might yet return to a simpler life in the town after she inquired about applying for a £6-an-hour job in Ladbrokes earlier this year.

Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said staff were shocked when she wandered into the store and inquired about how to apply for the job.

“We’d like to congratulate Susan on her success over the last five years,” he said. “But if she’s still dreaming the dream of joining the team at Ladbrokes the door is always open for her.”