Jenny Hill wins The Next Big Thing 2015

jenny-hillSinger Jenny Hill has become the 2015 Next Big Thing, Manx charity Junior Achievement’s annual talent contest for 10 to 17-year-olds.

Performing Wishing You Were Somehow Here from Phantom of the Opera the 13-year-old was voted by the judging panel – Renée Caley, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Dean Helm, Paragon Recruitment and guest judge Coronation Street star Kym Marsh – the top act out of the 15 finalists competing for the title at a packed Gaiety Theatre on Saturday February 28th and took away the first prize of £500 sponsored by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

Second prize, £250 sponsored by Manx Professional and Educational Services Limited, went to beat box duo Hez and Ashe (Hezekiah Tacardon, 16 and Ashenafi Ashenafi,17) and third prize, £150 sponsored by Hartford Homes, to 16-year-old singer and guitarist Hamish Faragher.

Entertainment was also provided by Next Big Thing 2014 winner, singer songwriter Mae Challis.

New for 2015 was the People’s Choice award in memory of youth worker Paul Cooper, who died in 2014 but who, as leader of the Soundcheck project, had been an influential figure in the Next Big Thing since it began. Junior Achievement’s chief executive Sue Cook explained: ‘From the outset of the Next Big Thing we had a huge amount of help from Paul. He was involved from day one and was such an inspiration to young performing artists, so to honour his invaluable contribution we created the People’s Choice award.

Members of the audience were invited to fill in their choice on a voting slip inside the Next Big Thing programme, with the first People’s Choice award going to dance troupe Intensity Blue. Runner-up was singer Christian Cooper, a Next Big Thing finalist in 2014.

More than 130 young people auditioned in November 2014 for a place in the grand final of the competition, now in its fourth year and sponsored by Paragon Recruitment and Energy FM.

Sue continued: ‘We were delighted to have Kym Marsh as one of our judges, along with Renée Caley and Dean Helm. It’s fair to say that they had a real challenge on their hands deciding on the winners, given the extremely high standard of the acts.

‘The Next Big Thing, though, isn’t just about lifting the trophy. It’s about giving young artists the opportunity to perform before a live audience with professional technical support, to help them develop their stagecraft and, importantly, their self-confidence.

‘Every one of the 15 finalists is to be congratulated for providing us with a fantastic evening’s entertainment. Thanks must go to our sponsors, supporters and, of course, our great team of volunteers. But thanks are also due to the audience for their enthusiastic support, willing these young performers to do well, and for creating the very special atmosphere that is the Next Big Thing.’

To find out more about Junior Achievement’s work and forthcoming events, visit jaiom.im or follow Junior Achievement Isle of Man on Facebook.