A builder serving with the Territorial Army in Afghanistan had the experience of a lifetime performing with Gary Barlow.
L/Cpl Shaun Fowler, 45, from Oakham, played guitar with the X Factor judge in a in front of about 1,000 troops at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.
The former Take That singer was on a two-day visit to meet British Troops. The visit and performance last month was recorded by television cameras and will be broadcast as Gary Barlow: Journey To Afghanistan on ITV 1 at 9pm on Monday, December 23.
Back in Oakham, Shaun’s long-term partner Kate Rosillo, 47, has shared in all the excitement.
Kate said: “He was pretty shocked by it all, scared even. Even though he is out in Afganhistan doing all this scary stuff it is pretty brave to get up on stage and do something like this.”
The performance is all the more extraordinary because the Oakham builder is only an amateur musician who took a small guitar, which he plays as a hobby, out to play for the other soldiers in his time off.
He auditioned for the concert unaware there was going to be a surprise visit from a chart-topping star.
While Gary was there Shaun spent quite a lot of time with the star, showing him around the camp and rehearsing for the big performance.
The story of Gary’s trip to Afganhistan has gained widespread media coverage and Kate said she got quite a surprise when she found out a photo of Shaun with the singer in Hello magazine.
She said: “You have got royalty on the front of the magazine and Shaun Fowler in the middle.
“He is completely gob smacked about it all. He went out there to serve in the army, he never imagined anything like this would happen.”
Talking about his trip, Gary Barlow said: “It’s been amazing and inspiring; something I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years now.
“I wanted to include the people in the camp, so we arrived and put a band together; they were all soldiers and they all had riffles on their back as they were playing, it felt so inclusive.
“I can’t believe we have actually done it and achieved it. It’s a memory that will stay with me forever. It’s been a privilege being here and meeting people who are serving so far from the UK.”