Eurovision 2019: Town gets behind Hartlepool’s hero Michael Rice ahead of tonight’s final
People across the town will be willing Michael Rice on in tonight’s Eurovision song contest when the eyes of the world will see how talented the young singer is.
Michael carries the hopes of the nation – and the town – when he will belt out Bigger Than Us in Israel.
The contest will be screened to a sell-out audience of supporters inside the Borough Hall which has been organised by Hartlepool Borough Council under the Love Hartlepool campaign banner.
Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Allan Barclay, said: “I’m really looking forward to welcoming everyone to our ‘Love Hartlepool, Love Eurovision’ party tonight.
“It’s a sell-out event – we’ve never seen tickets go so fast! – and it’s fantastic that so many people are coming along to join in the fun and cheer on Michael Rice as he sings for his town and his country.
“I know Michael is absolutely thrilled that we’re all rooting for him and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say how very proud we are of him.”
A former mentor of Michael’s has also sent a message of support.
Ian McManus has known Michael since he was 11 when he started going to the former creative arts charity Red Dreams in Hartlepool that Ian founded with his wife Dawn.
He recorded some of his first music there which Ian got played on the radio.
Ian said: “We gave him advice and developed what he has become which is an extraordinarily impressive voice and personality.
“We wish him all the best. It is probably one of the best songs we have had in the last 10 years.
“Michael is phenomenally hard working and he deserves his success.”
Ian is also throwing a Eurovision party at his and Dawn’s new venture Kyle’s Dream tonight for staff, volunteers and young users.
Its comes as Hartlepool’s business elite they gave a round of applause to Eurovision hopeful Michael.
The cream of town industry was gathered at the Borough Hall for the annual Hartlepool Business Awards on Thursday night.
But they spared a moment to pay tribute to Michael’s bid to win the famous singing competition.
Awards co-ordinator Andrew Steel said: “We do talk about promoting the town and what a fantastic achievement this has been for Michael.
“I am hoping all of us root for him.”
Michael, who is representing the UK in this year’s competition with his song Bigger Than Us, was then applauded by the audience of around 350 awards guests which Mr Steel described as ‘the best crowd ever and I am really proud of that’.
Mr Steel said it was ‘incumbent on all of us to promote Hartlepool as a great place to live, work and prosper’.
Many people are hoping that Michael could bring the UK back to the top of the scoreboard, after many years of languishing at or towards the bottom.
It’s 10 years since Jade Ewen placed the UK in the top 10 in Moscow with It’s My Time, and a generation - 22 years since Katrina and the Waves last won with Love Shine A Light - one of the most successful Eurovision songs of all time.