A past winner of Britain's Got Talent - Ashleigh Butler - has passed on her advice to would-be entrants of this year's Northampton's Rising Star talent show.
Ashleigh, who won the show in 2012 with her beloved dog Pudsey, told contestants to "believe in yourself; show people what you’re passionate about and have as much fun as possible".
And this globe-trotting 23-year old superstar who was born in Wellingborough, certainly knows about entering talent competitions. She is just back from performing on America’s got Talent: the Champions in January, where she was invited to perform for the first time with her new dog Sully in front of a panel of judges that included Simon Cowell.
Ashleigh received a standing ovation for her act where she showcased Sully’s talents for the first time since the passing of her beloved Pudsey in 2017.
She wishes all contestants entering Northampton’s Rising Star talent competition “massive good luck,” and encourages them to have the courage to go on stage and show people what they are passionate about.
“Believe in yourself! If you have the courage to go out in front of people and show them what you’re passionate about, make sure you do it with confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will,” she says.
She recalls the time when she first entered BGT in 2012, when in fact it was her mother who encouraged her to enter.
She says: “It was actually my mum that pushed me to do BGT. I was thinking about going on the show and we didn’t send in our form to apply for the show until the night of the closing date!”
“I always knew how amazing Pudsey was, and my main priority was to go on BGT, have as much fun as possible, and show everyone how talented he was. Winning didn’t even cross my mind, until the moment Ant and Dec read out our names.”
Another tip she gives to contestants entering Northampton’s Rising Star talent show is to be prepared for every eventuality on stage.
She explains: “When my mum was talking to me about BGT she made it very clear to me that things might not go the way I wanted them to (especially when you have a dog, anything could happen!) I felt like I was fully prepared to step out onto that stage and know that no matter if it went right or wrong I was just pleased that I had the courage to go out there and show everyone mine and Pudsey’s talent.”
Fortunately for the globe-trotting youngster things did go her way and winning the show opened up possibilities she could only have dreamed of.
“BGT changed my life in every way. I have had so many incredible experiences, including flying to America and doing a press tour; meeting the Queen; Pudsey having his own book and film, and having our own kids TV show.
"I will forever be grateful for what Pudsey gave me and the people that voted for us to win, because of their support I have had the most amazing seven years.”
Sadly Pudsey passed away from leukemia in 2017 and she was surprised and honoured to get the phone call inviting her onto America’s Got Talent: the Champions, as only 50 previous winners of talent shows around the world were invited to take part.
Simon Cowell called her new dog Sully a champion which meant a lot to Ashleigh.
She says: “He said that both me and Sully were champions. It meant a lot to me that he said that, as it was very difficult losing Pudsey, and having to perform without him. I felt like I was cheating in a way going back with a completely different dog, but Simon, along with everyone else, fell in love with Sully.”
She wishes all contestants entering Northampton’s Rising Star a “massive good luck.”
“Huge good luck to the event organiser, Tommy Gardner organising this amazing event to raise money for Cynthia Spencer Hospice. I wish I could be a part of it, but unfortunately I already have other commitments.
"Also, massive good luck to everyone taking part, make sure you go out there, do your best, and love every second of it.”
Registration for Northampton’s Rising Star is open to contestants of all ages via the website and closes on February 25, 2019.