88-year-old Colin Thackery delivered one of the most unforgettable auditions on Britain’s Got Talent by singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” for his late wife Joan. The Korean War Army veteran’s baritone was at once powerful and delicate, and he gave such a moving and genuine tribute to his wife of 66 years.
Someone must have been cutting onions in the auditorium because there weren’t many dry eyes in the room when Thackery was done. While singing the ballad made famous by Bette Midler, the octogenarian gave a real gravitas to the song that kept the audience rapt the entire time. He sang in a striking Army redcoat and his comrades who attended in the same uniform were clearly deeply moved by his singing. Watch the audition for yourself in the video below.
Judge David Walliams noted that Thackery touched the entire room with his performance and said “it was just the most perfect tribute and you sung with such heart that it affected all of us deeply. It was beautiful.” Britain’s Got Talent’s resident true romantic Alesha Dixon was naturally onboard as well, saying “Colin I really, really loved that. You showed to everyone that it’s never too late to do the things you love and to sing about the people that you love. It was wonderful.”
Amanda Holden was likewise impressed, saying “as I was listening to the words, I’d never thought of it before, that all of the men and women that fought for their country are the wind beneath our wings, because if it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be here. Congratulations, it was a lovely tribute.” Thackery leaned into the romantic theme by performing “Love Changes Everything” by Andrew Lloyd Webber later in the series, accompanied by a choir of veterans, as you can see below.
Simon Cowell made the closing comments on Thackery’s audition, saying “you are gonna have a moment. It was sincere and it was real and you are what this show is all about, so thank you.” Surprising no one, the judges then gave four yes votes to the talented veteran.
You may notice that Thackery performed with his military honours, which are from his service in the Army Royal Artillery in Malaya and the Korean War. The retired Warrant Officer Class 2 wore the following medals: the General Service Medal (Malaya), the Korea Medal and the United Nations Korea Medal.
Thackery showed he was the real deal by progressing throughout the series and eventually winning the 13th season of Britain’s Got Talent, taking home £250,000 in prize money. He turned 89 during the season and became the oldest winner in the history of the show. He subsequently sang for the British royal family at Royal Variety Performance and later at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Thackery is now 93 and is living at the Royal Hospital Chelsea retirement home, where he has resided since the passing of his wife. If you would like to see more from Colin Thackery, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Instagram.