Britain’s Got Talent returns to West Lothian

Valerie McEwen at the Britain's Got Talent auditions
Valerie McEwen at the Britain's Got Talent auditions
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SUSAN Boyle may have been missing from yesterday’s Britain’s Got Talent auditions just three miles from her family home, but that didn’t stop the West Lothian songstress inspiring a new batch of hopefuls.

People arrived from 9.30am to queue in freezing conditions and falling snow in the Morrisons car park in Bathgate for their shot at stardom.

Amongst them was 47-year-old Valerie McEwen, a singer who has been wheelchair bound for the past two years following a fall that damaged discs in her lower back.

Ms McEwen, who is waiting for an operation through the NHS, said she had been on the brink of giving up on her dream after knockbacks from The X Factor and The Voice last year.

However, a frank conversation with a neighbour reminded her that SuBo’s stunning breakthrough with a rendition of I Dreamed a Dream had come at the age of 48, and despite the Scottish singer’s unusual appearance.

The Blackburn star was eventually crowned runner-up of the TV talent show in 2009 and has since sung for the Queen and sold millions of records.

Ms McEwen said: “I think people see past me, they don’t actually see me. All they see is this chair.

“Sometimes I go into auditions and they go through my name before I even open my mouth, it’s pretty disheartening.

“But I thought ‘it’s 2013, it’s a new year, it’s a new start’ so I’m here.

“I’m not going to get it if I don’t chase it. You have to keep your dreams alive or else you’ll never do anything.”

Ms McEwen defied what she described as “excruciating pain” to stand up inside the performance tent and deliver a rousing version of Adele’s ballad One and Only.

The two-minute performance was delivered direct to camera rather than a panel of judges, but still earned a round of applause from fellow hopefuls huddled outside in the snow.

The reaction prompted on-site crew to request a second song from Ms McEwen, who also performed an original track.

Harthill student Siobhan Haslin’s effort – a “mash-up” of her own songs accompanied by guitar – was also applauded. It was a nice reward for the 17-year-old, who said: “There’s a lot of talent here.”

The biggest headache was the freezing conditions. Auditions started an hour late, with the crew buying an extra heater to keep the performance tent cosy.

Ms Haslin said: “Playing guitar might be a bit difficult with numb fingers.”

Others like mother Linda McCrindle, 47, stood in the queue while nine-year-old daughter Emalee kept her vocal chords warm by sitting in the car. “It’s dedication,” Ms McCrindle said.

Contestants now have to wait until at least next month to learn if they have progressed to the next stage of auditions and a live performance in front of judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams.

SUSAN BOYLE - Living the dream

THE ascent to fame of one of the world’s most unconventional singing stars started at a preliminary audition for Britain’s Got Talent.

Susan Boyle applied as contestant number 43212 in Glasgow in August 2008. She was accepted into the next round of auditions, singing I Dreamed a Dream from stage musical Les Misérables at the west coast city’s Clyde Auditorium. The performance triggered a standing ovation from the audience - a reaction that contrasted with initial expectations.

Judge Amanda Holden confessed on air: “We were all being very cynical and this is the greatest wake-up call ever.”