The Musings of an MA Mamma

Because the world is such an interesting place.

“If the road ahead becomes too hard to climb…..”


Today sees me 10 days into training for the Lincoln 10k in March and getting down to my goal weight. On a cold, bright winter day like today, it’s not too arduous now. Yesterday, in the wind and howling rain, I can tell you that you start to question your sanity. It maybe doesn’t qualify as a big thing for most, but for me it’s a huge challenge.

I started running in January 2014, after receiving a wedding invite – I simply couldn’t face turning up to this wedding – the bride a fitness instructor, the groom a Royal Marine – topping the scales at the heaviest I had ever been, mixing with the young and beautiful. Somehow, at sometime, I had lost my way – got buried in being all things to all people – Mamma, wife, volunteer, housekeeper and the general comings and goings of everyday life. 14 years previously, I had climbed to the Base Camp of Mount Everest and raised £5000 for a cancer charity specialising in cancer research for young people – and now I felt I had nothing to offer anyone, least of all myself.

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The thought had come to me that I needed to do something about this when I made a New Year’s resolution in January 2012 to see more live music, after my sister and I had reclaimed the youth we never had and started going to live music events in 2011 – they were amazing. First we started with Take That and the Progress tour of 2011 – my first ever stadium concert and standing under that ticky tape machine listening to Gary, Mark, Howard, Jason and Robbie belt out “Today this could be the Greatest Day of our lives” was rather an understatement. Next was Gary Barlow Live in December 2013, held at Newcastle City Hall .

Music is a very powerful thing – speaking to the renowned Rock Photographer Nick Elliott (whose portfolio includes the likes of Thin Lizzy and Marmalade) during a series of interviews broadcast on Siren FM, he is a first hand believer that music really DOES change the world – lyrics and sound that speak out, capture a moment, a feeling, a longing – expressing, for some, the inexpressible. I walked out of the auditorium that December night in 2013 a changed person – with a determination, a motivation, a focus – something I have come to nickname “the power of the Barlow”. Now, people do tend to ridicule and poke fun at this, but I absolutely believe in fate; in being in the right place at the right time, meeting the people you need to meet, and that night I needed to witness that performance – if only to underline the fact that I wasn’t dead yet; there was a whole lot of life left to live, and I really WAS worth it, even if I didn’t believe it.

So, armed with my music and my fitness apps loaded into my phone, I set about dropping 6 stone. I can tell you the first couple of months were hell, because frankly I hate running – but it was cheap, flexible in terms of time, and I knew it would be the right intensity to get results. I would never have made it without the expertise and help of the NHS 0-5k podcasts or my music. Once I had built up my stamina and accepted that my diet really was going to have to change (mainly how much I was eating, not necessarily the sort of foods I was eating) I’m loathed to admit that I really started to enjoy it!! By July 2014 I had ditched 3 stone and attended my friends wonderful wedding, but there’s still a long way to go………..


Determined to keep up the resolution, Helen and I booked the next lot of performances to see – April 2014 saw us attend the Newcastle Metro Radio Arena to see Gary Barlow’s sell out “Since I Saw You Last Tour” which, although not like the intimate gig at the Newcastle City Hall, was well worth the 400 mile round trip. Michael Buble followed in December 2014 (and I’ve written a separate review about that concert). Because going to large concerts, however nice, tends to involve quite a bit of time, travel and expense, I also started going to more events on my own as the need to attend more local arts events for my MA became increasingly apparent. One of those gigs later in December 2014 was by Dan Hadfield – a local Lincolnshire lad (and as it turned out the UK’s No1 Gary Barlow Tribute Act) I’d been told about by one of the Porters at University who’d seen me sporting my Gary Barlow “Since I saw You Last” T-shirt and had informed me that Dan had worked here. So earlier in the year I had set about tracking him down, and Dan very kindly met me to talk about how he’d got into performing and tribute acting, what it was like to look like Gary Barlow, and what impact that had on his life.

Here’s the interview article from that chat:


“Our Man Dan”

Nervous with anticipation, the door opens and my heart jumps – it’s him. Wearing faded jeans, a black jacket, his trademark haircut and with eyes that light up the room, you’d be forgiven for thinking Gary Barlow OBE, 6 times Novello Award winner and lead singer of Take That, has arrived. But it’s not green eyed Gary, who’s sold over 50 million records worldwide with 12 number one hit singles and seven number one albums. It’s one of the best Gary Barlow tribute acts in the business, brown eyed Dan Hadfield – and boy does he look like Barlow.

 Dan, like Gary, has impeccable charm. He laughs as I struggle to contain my shock (he even sounds like him) and tells me he’s driven to meet me from Melton. He’s been learning the new number one hit song These Days, which has nearly had him in tears trying to get the vocals down. “I won’t be singing it in my Lincoln gig tonight” he chuckles. He’s also keen to impress how seriously he takes it. “Whenever I’m learning a Take That song, it has to be right. You get out of it what you put into it.”

I start by asking how his tribute acting started – by his own admission he never planned it this way. “I remember an old school friend of mine told me to put MTV on. He said there was a new group called Take That and I looked just like the lead singer.”

It was purely coincidence that Dan, who’s originally from Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, became a tribute act. “For 20 years people have told me I look like him.” He repeats it as if he still doesn’t believe he looks almost identical to 43 year old Gary, who’s 4 years Dan’s senior.


“Gary went on X Factor as a judge. I could see there was something but I wasn’t sure,” revealing more of the mannerisms associated with Gary. Encouraged, he went to the local barbers and privately asked: “Give me the Barlow haircut.” although he adds “I was embarrassed to ask – I’d never had much of a hairstyle before!”


However, Dan got an unexpected part of Gary’s life. “It turned into hell” he admits. “I walked from my office into town and I had people say things, including a bunch of girls that wouldn’t let me into a shop. It made me feel hideous.”  It didn’t put him off though. “I got back to the office and a friend said I should send my photo into a tribute agency –a month later I was on the Xtra Factor with Gary. It was mind blowing.”  Gary’s co-judges were amazed by the likeness.


Dan was still working at the University of Lincoln as a schools’ manager then. I ask how he managed it all and he laughs “I didn’t manage it – I was in my Lincoln job, driving to gigs at weekends, getting back on Sunday and back at work on Monday. I didn’t get time for a life.”


I ask what his friends and colleagues thought of leaving his job and he admits: “I told them I was bored to tears with my working life. They thought I was mad” He’s now in demand giving solo concerts as Gary Barlow throughout the UK and Europe and occasionally performs as part of the tribute act, Totally Take That. He’s recently done TV continuity work and has other projects coming up as Take That’s popularity increases with the recent chart success of the new album TTIII.

“It’s fantastic – I enjoy the singing but I enjoy the lookalike stuff too. It’s not been without its negatives, but what is?” Dan adds proudly “Gary’s been great about it. He’s said some really nice things and he’s advertised my shows before. There are many tributes out there but he’s been so nice about my act. Our paths keep intertwining”

“To see Gary sit down and play – he can really play a tune. I don’t get music till I listen to it through my headphones. I have to listen to it on my own terms.”  Dan, who’s performed from intimate restaurant gigs to as many as 5000 people at Butlins and is starting to learn the piano, is determined he wants to do things his own way though. “I’m not suddenly going to stop singing – I might do it as myself, but it just so happens that at this time in my life I’m doing what I’m doing now.”

Gary Barlow has clearly had a profound effect on Dan’s life. “He has an amazing impact on people” notes Dan. Talking about his act, which is popular with the public as well as Barlow fans, he’s no hesitation in naming his favourite song: “Since I Saw You Last is my favourite – I decided to start my set with it.”

Talking about his own interests which include jazz, literature, David Lynch films and Star Wars, his future hopes include opening his own swing and jazz agency. “My heart beats as a swing singer” he beams. “I love jazz, swing, big band. My idols are Sinatra, Bobby Darin, and Bennett – the greats.” T this point, I’m suddenly aware that Dan’s started to be a little less like Gary, and a bit more like himself.

Where does he see his tribute going in the future? “Take That’s back catalogue is amazing. Who knows what the shelf life of this is, but if you ever found out exactly what it is you want to do in life, I think that’s a scary place. Things happen when they’re supposed to happen.”

Dan at his Gig at Number 9 in Lincoln 17th December 2014 singing the Gary Barlow hit “A Million Love Songs”



Having met him and seen him perform, and so impressed was I having seen the real deal (I even got a rendition of “A Million Love Songs”), Dan starts his 2015 tour season on February 6th in Portsmouth, and arrives at the DoubleTree Hilton, Lincoln, for a sell out gig on 28th February which I (and about 25 of my friends) have most certainly booked a date to see – yet another reason to stick to the New Year’s Resolution and keep running!

by posted under Home Muse | 3 Comments »    
3 Comments to

““If the road ahead becomes too hard to climb…..””

  1. January 13th, 2015 at 2:05 pm      Reply Nick Elliott Press Office Says:

    Good to hear your views on music, Su.

    Glad that Nick has helped to inspire you and all the listeners of Siren FM as music has inspired him. It is indeed his second passion to photography and is at the root of where it all began.

  2. January 12th, 2015 at 10:53 pm      Reply Donna Craigen Says:

    What a fantasically written article Susie Roys

  3. January 12th, 2015 at 2:51 pm      Reply Bernadette Blaevoet Says:

    Hi, I enjoyed your blog. xx

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