In the week that ITV aired the live semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent, Ripon residents were glad to swap their TV sets for Holy Trinity Church, and attend the grand final of the city’s very own version of the contest.
The church was filled with pride on Friday, as nine breathtakingly talented acts took to the stage and demonstrated in spectacular fashion just how much Ripon has to offer - from singers and dancers, to pianists and musical theatre, the final was crammed with variety and outstanding performances.
The overall winner of the competition was Amelia Andrews, who wowed judges and the audience with her very powerful and emotive rendition of Electricity from Billy Elliott. It was an action-packed routine that beautifully showcased Amelia’s wide array of talents - singing, dancing, and acting.
Minutes after finding out that she had been crowned the winner, Amelia said: “I feel overwhelmed, I just can’t believe it. I wasn’t expecting that at all, everyone is so talented. It’s been a blast.”
In second place was pianist Adrian Wu, whose fingers flew across the keys in a mind-blowing blur - so highly skilled and technical was his act, that judges asked him to take a bow and soak up the rapturous applause. Maddison Ranshaw won everyone’s hearts with her moving performance of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables, and deservedly won the audience prize. Judges praised Maddison for her note-perfect song, and the effortless control she showed.
There were some familiar faces in the final - both returning winners who took to the stage to entertain the crowds, and returning acts who were determined to go further in the contest than last year. Singer Ava Harper, who was a finalist in 2018, was awarded the prestigious judges’ prize, having delivered a stunning and heartfelt performance of The Power of Love by Gabrielle Aplin. There were tears in people’s eyes as she gave the moving song choice her all.
Ava said on the night: “I’ve really enjoyed being part of Ripon’s Got Talent, I feel like I’ve really grown in confidence.” The judges this year were Ryan Stocks, who has spent most of his life producing music, acting and directing shows; Lily Worth, who is the organiser of the competition, a singer, and the coordinator of Ripon’s Christmas video each year; surprise judge Jessica Parnell who was awarded the judges’ prize for her singing last year, and Ripon Gazette journalist Finola Fitzpatrick.
The charismatic compère for the second year in a row was Jake England. Lily said: “It’s been absolutely amazing this year. Not only did we have people return to audition from last year, we had new amazing talented people too. To see the contestants who entered last year come back and be more confident and even more talented was great to see. And also during rehearsals the acts all formed friendships and had a good laugh with each other. The friendships they’d formed within the small space of time is what Ripon’s Got Talent is all about.
“The winners this year absolutely deserved to win, and I’m just sad we couldn’t give everyone a prize because all nine were amazing. And our returning performers: Class of 2019, Jessica Parnell and Freddie Cleary were amazing to see again.”
Singer and pianist Molly Disbury blew everyone away with her Beatles medley, and Liam Shepherd soon had the audience cheering and clapping along to his perfectly-choreographed dance routine to a Justin Timberlake track.
Taylor Campbell was praised for his great stage presence and infectious showmanship as he sang A Million Dreams, and everyone was captivated by Matilda O’Brien’s fantastic and enthralling ballet routine.
Singer Luke Andrews showcased his great vocals and song-writing skills as he performed an original track. Matilda said: “The competition makes me so proud to be part of Ripon.”
Ripon’s Got Talent was generously sponsored by Intrim Health and Fitness, Property Link Homes, Ripon Lions, Golden Frog PR, and Watkins-Wright Hairdressing and Beauty Boroughbridge who kindly pampered all of the acts and judges and did their hair.
Upstage Academy donated the judges’ award prize. Organiser Lily Worth thanked all sponsors for their unstinting support, which made the event possible. Ripon's Got Talent raised funds for Jennyruth Workshops. Matthew and Lucy, who represented the charity on the night, said it was an amazing event.
Jennyruth Workshops' operations manager, Denise Carrigan, said: "We had an amazing evening. I feel so proud to be living in such a talented city! Lucy and Matthew had a wonderful evening and they enjoyed helping with the washing line game as well as watching all the acts.
"The were thrilled to be asked to present a trophy to one of the winners and to be included in many of the official photographs. Thank you to all the organisers for making us so welcome, and for raising much-needed funds for our charity, Jennyruth Workshops."
Matthew said: “The singing and dancing were great, it was really fantastic. They all did really well."