PENSIONERS with a passion for performance took to the stage to impress Sunderland’s answer to Simon Cowell.
Eleven acts, from a 95-year-old singer to a troupe of grandma tappers, wowed the crowds at the city’s first Seniors Got Talent.
They were out to impress a panel of judges including author and actor Terry Deary, of Horrible Histories fame, and representatives from Gentoo, who staged the event at Bede Tower, Ashbrooke.
Fred Dymond, 72, from Silksworth, who performed a Twist dance, said: “I’d love to do Strictly Come Dancing but you have to be a celebrity to do that, so this is next best.
“I’ve never really done anything like this before but I fancied giving it a try.”
Joan Ramshaw, 68, was part of the show’s winning act, Millie’s Tappers, a troupe of tap dancers aged 60-82.
“I think this is a great activity for over 60s,” said the great grandmother. “We’ve performed at Gentoo events before and on the Sunderland Empire stage. We practise once a week at Muriel Harrison School of Dance and really enjoy it.”
The event coincided with International Day of Older Persons and was aimed at proving that older people can still have the X factor.
Terry Deary said: “I’ve been looking for commitment today, not just people going through the motions and doing it for the money like some young singers in nightclubs do.
“I think this contest is a fabulous idea, I wish every town would have a Seniors Got Talent because seniors do have talent. But because they may not be as pretty as younger performers they don’t get the same chances.”
Michelle Meldrum, managing director, Gentoo Operations said: “Today is International Day of Older Persons so what better opportunity for us at Gentoo to raise awareness and appreciate the contributions older people make to society.
“Today we’re celebrating what older people bring to our local community and this afternoon we have been entertained by people from across our city who have come together to show seniors really do have talent.”
Ken Payne, 61, a guitarist with Alzheimer’s disease, was crowned in second place while Simply Tap, a tap dancing group aged 60-72, came third.