Suggs, Alfie Boe, Charles Dance and Heather Small among stars at Sheffield's Invictus opening gig

Sheffield is hosting the first ever Invictus Team UK Trials, July 22-26, for British wounded, injured and sick veterans and personnel.

Thursday, 11th July 2019, 08:58 am
Updated Thursday, 11th July 2019, 09:00 am
Charles Dance with veterans

Over five days, almost 500 competitors, will take part in up to nine sports – Archery, Athletics, Cycling, Indoor Rowing, Powerlifting, Sitting Volleyball, Swimming, Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Rugby.

An opening concert to celebrate the Trials features Alfie Boe, singer-songwriter JP Cooper, classical artist Laura Wright, pop-sensation Heather Small, Suggs from Madness and Game of Thrones actor Charles Dance.

The ‘Big Gig’ takes place on Monday 22 July at Sheffield FLY DSA Arena at 7.30pm and promises to give a big welcome to all 470 plus competitors and their families, who have been invited to attend.

JP Cooper has had over two billion audio streams around the world with two Top Ten and platinum-selling singles, ‘Perfect Strangers’ (with Jonas Blue) and ‘September Song’, and a Top Ten album with his 2017 debut, ‘Raised Under Grey Skies’. Cooper’s latest hit ‘Sing It With Me’ featuring Astrid has dominated this summer’s airwaves, a hit JP describes as a “pop monster”.

JP Cooper said: “I often wonder what good I am doing for the world by sitting around writing songs all day. In the grand scheme of things it seems quite useless, however I’m incredibly grateful to have been asked to perform for some real heroes who have made a huge difference for our country, and I can’t wait to see you all there.”

Alfie Boe is one of Britain’s best-loved performers. The powerhouse voice with Platinum album sales has conquered the world’s most prestigious opera stages and theatres, and stole the show at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace.

Lead singer of Madness, Suggs said: “We have a busy schedule with the Madness UK Tour but for these incredible athletes and their families it’s an easy decision to head for the Sheffield Arena on July 22 and join Alfie Boe, Heather Small, and Charles Dance for this great night.”

Heather Small became one of the seminal voices of the ‘90s with massive worldwide success as part of M People. The title track of her solo album, Proud, became the soundtrack to major sporting and charitable events, such as England’s victory at the Rugby World Cup.

English soprano and classical-popular crossover singer, Laura Wright is a Royal favourite - she has performed for the Queen at her Majesty’s 90th birthday celebrations and at numerous sporting events.  The Big Gig is produced and presented by Sheffield’s Grammy award-winning songwriter and producer Eliot Kennedy, and designer Emma Willis MBE DL, founder of the charity Style for Soldiers.

Charles Dance, the legendary British actor who has gained a huge young following playing Lord Lannister in Game of Thrones will perform a reading at the Big Gig.

Charles Dance said: “As Ambassador to Style for Soldiers, which does so much to support our injured service personnel and their families, I am greatly looking forward taking part in the Big Gig, a wonderful way to thank Sheffield for hosting The Trials and give a resounding welcome to the inspirational athletes and their families.”

He added: “I have met many young injured veterans through the charity and am constantly astonished at their courage, selflessness and above all humour despite their challenges. It is a privilege to be able contribute to the first UK Invictus Trials, being so generously hosted by Sheffield City this summer. Our Armed Forces deserve all the support we can give.”

Running alongside the Invictus Trials UK will be a series of live performance and arts events supporting wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans in their personal recovery journey.  Producer of the Big Gig, Eliot Kennedy, has supported military charities since 2013 after travelling to Camp Bastion with his song-writing partner Gary Barlow for an ITV documentary, ‘Journey to Afghanistan’.

Eliot said: “When I went to Afghanistan with Gary, it was an incredibly eye-opening experience. The Armed Forces risked their lives out there on a daily basis and the emotion of that trip stays with me. The Invictus Games show the incredible rehabilitative power of sport. I’ve long believed music has a similar power to bring people together, access our common humanity and be an uplifting force for good. The wounded, injured or sick service personnel and veterans inspire us all with their spirit and strength.”

The Invictus UK Trials are delivered by a partnership of Help for Heroes, the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion.

Rear Admiral Jim Macleod, Head of Invictus UK, said: “We are delighted that Eliot has offered his much-admired expertise to kick off what is set to be an incredible week of events in Sheffield. The Big Gig will include some fantastic acts and we are honoured that Eliot and his team have chosen to support Invictus UK in this way.”

Those who compete in the Invictus UK Trials can put themselves forward for consideration to become part of Team UK for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020.

The Big Gig, Sheffield FLY DSA Arena, Monday 22 July. Doors open 6.30pm, show starts 7.30pm. Tickets £25. A limited no. of VIP tickets to include after show party are available at £40.

Proceeds of The Big Gig will be donated to Invictus UK and Style for Soldiers to support the recovery journeys of our wounded, injured or sick.

Tickets can be purchased from: www.flydsaarena.co.uk