As Blackpool prepares for its biggest week of celebrations this year, resort-born international singing star Alfie Boe has spoken of his pride at growing up in the area.
Speaking exclusively to The Gazette ahead of Friday’s Switch-On concert, Alfie, who grew up in Fleetwood, has said he hopes to perform for his fans at the event but the details of his appearance are yet to be confirmed.
But ahead of that, there’s tomorrow night’s Ride The Lights, where hundreds of people take to pedal-power to see the Illuminations along a Promenade which is closed off to vehicles.
Then just under 24 hours after Alfie flicks the giant switch, pop royalty Britney Spears will close the UK and Europe leg of her Piece Of Me tour with a special outdoor concert in the shadow of Blackpool Tower.
Alfie, whose family still lives in Fleetwood, said of being invited to be the Switch-On star: “It’s a great honour.
“I have seen the Illuminations as a kid so many times growing up, that to be given the opportunity to go back on home turf to do something so iconic and historic I’m actually blown away that they asked me.”
Friday’s concert will feature a headline appearance from Jonas Blue as well as a showcase from Diversty, their third time at the Switch-On in as many years.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to work, we have some phone calls planned to arrange it,” Alfie added.
“Diversity are involved, they have something up their sleeve - and I don’t want to embarrass or show them up with my moves.
“But I would be happy to sing a song, but don’t know what the plan is yet.”
Friday’s Switch-On show has something of a local flavour, with Blackpool singer-songwriter Rae Morris also set to appear as part of the concert.
“We have to be proud of where we are from, and I’m sure Rae is as much as I am,” Alfie said.
“Over the 26 years I have been singing, I’ve had nothing but overwhelming support from my home town, the Fylde Coast and Blackpool.
“I’m always going going to return there and a love of home.
“And a night like the Switch-On is a time to celebrate ourselves, our area and our success in flying the flag for our county.”
Earlier this summer, Alfie’s excitement and pride in his home town was all too evident to the 9,000 crowd at Fleetwood Town Football Club’s Highbury Stadium as he poured his heart and soul into the show.
“It was a wonderful night - I had a great time,” the 44-year-old ‘lad from Shaky Lane’ said.
“People said ‘Were you nervous in front of your home crowd?’
“And I wasn’t, it just felt that I really had come home.
“I was in front of friends and family, people I had known for years and new faces too. I was excited, really really excited to perform that night.
“It was a long old show too, it went on a while. I think it was meant to be about an hour and a half and was about three and a half hours or something like that.
“It’s way up there at the top of the list of my all-time best shows.
“It really was very special to play in front of my home crowd to be appreciated the way that I was and the support from the town, from Fleetwood itself and from the football club, was immense.
“I am so grateful to everybody for turning up and showing such support for me; a lad from Fleetwood.”
Perhaps the best thing about that special concert for Alfie though, was supporting Trinity Hospice with a £2 donation from every ticket sold - which totalled more than £16,000 as revealed last week.
Alfie is a patron for the Bispham-based charity, which serves people battling life limiting illnessess from across the length of the Fylde.
“Raising that amount of money, I can’t thank people who donated enough for their support,” Alfie said.
“It’s such a wonderful hospice and I always do whatever I can for them.
“If you are going to commit to being a patron of any charity, and I represent a few, I try to make the time to do what I can to support and raise funds; it’s not about publicity or getting my name out there, it’s about returning the favour of what they do for so many families.
“The work Trinity Hospice does is so invaluable.”
After a summer season of concerts, Alfie’s also been busy relocating his family from Utah, USA, back to the UK - another indication of the importance of home for the former TVR mechanic.
“It’s been pretty stressful, but we are getting there,” he said of the move.
“There’s a lot of work going on over here at the moment, my management and record companies are in the UK, so it just made sense.
“I’m still travelling back to America and doing a lot of work there.
“But really, I’m on the road quite a bit, my family were in America, so we decided to set up here so we will be closer.
“My daughter Grace, who’s 10, has lived in England before, she’s experienced it quite a bit, but my son Alfie is six and hasn’t [lived here] which is interesting for him - though he seems to be taking it very well.”
Taking a break from the hugely successful albums Together and Together Again with Michael Ball, Alfie’s been back working on a solo album this year, although a release date is yet to be confirmed.
“It’s not quite finished,” he said. “But it will be soon and will be out in time for Christmas.”