It was a bitterly cold evening and I was hardly dressed for the occasion as Hayley would be able to confirm. A temporary structure which pretended to be a stage had been erected just in front of the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. This had already been the scene of a concert of carols given by the choir of a church in Motspur Park which concluded at about 6pm.

I had heard a rumour that Hayley would be appearing but would not believe it until I saw her. A 15-strong choral ensemble called 'Voce' (please forgive the spelling if I am wrong) took the stage but I was still unsure about Hayley's presence. Suddenly I became oblivious to the ever-growing crowds around me as she was introduced together with a young man whose name was not familiar to me (apologies again). First of all Hayley, then the said young man spoke a few words on behalf of Amnesty International and the work that they are doing and how essential it is that people become aware of the need for international arms control. They both asked that we, the public, write to MPs and make our voices heard in the hope that it would lend support to the organisation's cause. The nameless young man was, perhaps, more used to public speaking than Hayley and was, therefore, a little more eloquent but he was reading every word. He said all the right things but his message lacked feeling; he may as well have been reading a shopping list! Hayley, on the other hand, had no such script. Her speech was spontaneous and from the heart. It was her words that drove the message home.

She then took the stage to sing two traditional carols a capella (no instrumental accompaniment.... apparently!); just vocal backing from Voce. I was standing directly in front of Hayley and no more than three or four yards away. Her voice was unbelievable. It rang through as crystal clear as it does on her CD despite the background discordant embellishments of the nearby London traffic. To be honest, I am not the world's greatest admirer of carols but the beauty of Hayley's voice singing Silent Night was spellbinding and moved me so much that I was close to tears. She was probably having the same effect on Nelson but I couldn't tell in the darkness!

All that could be seen of what Hayley was wearing was a pair of light blue jeans beneath a lovely warm-looking white coat with fur trimmings which, I guess was the one she bought in Edinburgh recently, and a white woollen scarf which she removed while she was singing. She looked lovely - what a shame that I no longer possess a camera.

All too soon she left the stage to make way for other performers who I am sure were more than worthy of the occasion and I can only apologise to them for not having stayed around to see them. Suddenly, I had a more pressing engagement....

Hayley had disappeared to the left of the Christmas tree so I quickly gave up my advantageous position to those behind me. They seemed grateful at the time! I made my way through the crowds in the direction that Hayley had gone. It wasn't long before I found her holding a small plaque displaying the 'Amnesty International' logo, being photographed by the press. When they had finished snapping, I called her. We spoke for maybe ten minutes or so and it is like all those who have met her always say - she is absolutely delightful. So down-to-earth with the occasional hint of youthful excitement, so charming and so friendly. She told me of one or two forthcoming television appearances including 'Parkinson' to be broadcast of Christmas Day which she had recorded that very afternoon. She also told me something that I am sure all readers will want to know. She will be filming in New Zealand early next year for a DVD due to be released in the UK next summer!

Although I had not expected the opportunity to meet her would arise, I took the booklet from 'Pure' just in case. I was thrilled when she signed it for me. I then shook her hand and she commented that my hands were cold (which explains my opening sentence!). I told her that I had been standing around waiting for her for two hours for which she apologised! Hayley, if I am ever lucky enough to meet you again, I'll wear gloves!

Roger Mansbridge




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