I'm singing to keep dad's charity legacy alive, says Jimi Heselden girl
In an exclusive interview Joanne Heselden-Edwards today told how she is fulfilling her father's lifelong wish for her to become a singer and to continue his legacy of supporting wounded military heroes.
Leeds born miner turned millionaire Jimi saved countless lives, including many in the armed forces, after developing the Hesco Bastion 'blast wall' - or Concertainer - used to build military defences, including Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan.
The 62-year-old gave millions to charities, including Help For Heroes, before he died in a freak accident in 2010 while riding a Segway, after he bought the two-wheeled vehicle company.
Now Joanne will honour his memory with an album called Hidden Wounds, named after a branch of Help For Heroes which supports ex-soldiers and those still serving who live with mental illnesses and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The album has been produced by Sheffield Grammy award winning songwriting and concert organiser Eliot Kennedy. He and pal Gary had performed to troops at Camp Bastion, so the Take That star rescheduled his busy diary to take part in the concert.
The spectacular dinner show - which is set for a sell out - will see him on a star-studded bill singing under the iconic Vulcan bomber in its hangar at Doncaster Sheffield Airport this Saturday, November 12. Tickets are now limited at hiddenwoundsconcert.comIt will be a return to the county for Gary who last year wrote the song Yorkshire for his musical with Tim Firth called The Girls - based on the true life story of the Calendar Girls.
Today Joanne revealed how Jimi, who grew up on a sprawling council estate, left school at 15 without a single qualification and went on to become one of the UK’s wealthiest men, worth £343 million. He gave over £23 million to charities in his home city alone and many more millions to Help For Heroes.
"Dad never forgot where he came from and appreciated his good fortune. That’s why he supported local charities and H4H - it was his way of saying thank you to the armed forces for helping him become the success he was," said says Joanne, aged 45, of Leeds.
"He’d say we have a duty to use wealth to help others. Dad believed in giving people a hand up, not a hand out. He was a grafter to the day he died but he knew we all need extra support at times.
"That’s why I am going to sing publicly for the first time and all money raised from my efforts will go towards H4H’s Hidden Wounds. Whether you are a soldier or not, we all have hidden wounds - our family has and we live with them to this day. Dad would be delighted I am continuing his legacy.’"
Blonde Jo wept: `I can’t ever buy Dad a birthday or Xmas present again. I can’t share a drink and a song with him, as he loved. I can and do take flowers to his grave. But I am ready now - six years after his death - to fulfil his lifelong wish.’
Jo has spent several months recording the charity album which includes some of hers and Jimi’s favourite songs. It also includes the Hidden Wounds single co-written with globally successful Eliot Kennedy, the man behind millions of smash hits with The Spice Girls, Take That and Bryan Adams.
She added: "I will be nervous stepping on the public stage but I am doing it for Dad, to carry on his legacy, and for me. I will take a deep breath and picture my dad reassuring me, as he always did, saying 'Come on, kid. Just get on and do it.'‘
Eliot will perform some of his own self-penned greatest hits, including the likes of Everything Changes, Picture Of You, Say You’ll Be There and When You’re Gone. There will also be a reunion with St Elmo's Fire rocker John Parr and John Reilly to sing their Women Of Steel song, a tribute to the women who kept the steel mills working during two world wars.
Guests confirmed also include The Puppini Sisters, an Andrews Sisters style close harmony vocal trio, who have appeared on TV shows from Loose Women to Strictly Come Dancing, performed at Glastonbury and recorded Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman with Michael Bublé for his Christmas album.
Barnsley indie band Sundance will also get their biggest break to date performing at the event.
* Eliot Kennedy presents Joanne Heselden-Edwards singing from her new album at the Hidden Wounds charity concert, with Special Guests: 12 November, 7pm at The Vulcan to the Sky aircraft hangar, Doncaster. To book or find out more, visit hiddenwoundsconcert.com