Next Big Thing judges ‘ama-ZED’ by 11-year-olds’ originality

ZED – three 11-year-old boys, Zac Colligon, Ethan Whyley and David Livesey – have been voted the Next Big Thing 2019.

The boys impressed the judges and delighted a packed house at the Gaiety Theatre on Saturday February 9 at the Next Big Thing grand final with their original song, dance and comedy routine which they devised and choreographed themselves.

They met up originally at Sing Up music school in Douglas then decided to join forces and audition as ZED for the Next Big Thing, the talent contest for 10 to 18-year-olds organised by Junior Achievement Isle of Man.

As winners, ZED took home the Next Big Thing 2019 trophy and a first prize of £500 cash sponsored by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. When they were questioned by compère for the evening James Turpin about what the money would be spent on Zac replied: ‘Probably a spa day for our mums.’

Runner-up was 10-year-old Kasia Ashton, a singer with a confidence and stage presence well beyond her years, who won £250 sponsored by Manx Professional and Educational Services Ltd.

In third place was dance group Infinity from Unity Dance School whose performance of contemporary dance combined with breath-taking gymnastics won them £150 sponsored by the Platform Theatre School.

The show, which featured 13 acts, was sponsored by Paragon Recruitment, SmartHR and Energy FM and the programmes by Auxesia.

Judges were Paragon Recruitment’s Dean Helm, Lloyds Banking Group’s Luke Adebiyi, SmartHR’s Gail Yeowell and ballroom dance teacher Mary O’Dea.

Opening the evening was the Next Big Thing 2018, magician Giles Beaumont who, when interviewed by James Turpin, said auditioning then winning the contest had boosted his self-confidence and inspired him to go further in his career, which will see him competing in this year’s Young Magician of the Year contest in London.

Closing the show was local singer and musician Jack Divers.

Junior Achievement chief executive Sue Cook said: ‘This is the seventh year of the Next Big Thing grand final and every year I never cease to be amazed at not only the amazing talent there is in the island, but also the sheer dedication and hard work of all the contestants and the tremendous support from their families, friends, coaches and schools.

‘Giles spoke about being “inspired” after taking part in the Next Big Thing last year and I hope that the truly amazing acts we’ve seen this year will inspire more young people to enter for next year’s competition and experience the “magic” of appearing on the stage of the Gaiety Theatre.

‘For now, at least, the show may be over, but our work is not. This year is the 100th anniversary of Junior Achievement worldwide so we’ve set ourselves a target to recruit 100 more volunteers in 2019. This will support our work in every one of the island’s primary and secondary schools to deliver programmes that help young people to make the connection between school and the world of work. They can then develop the skills and knowledge they’ll need to get a job and become next-generation entrepreneurs. In other words to become “the Next Big Thing” in their chosen career.’

To find out more about volunteering for Junior Achievement call Sue Cook, 666266, or visit