X Factor contestant Rebekah Ryan has told how her emotional audition sparked a collaboration with the charity that helped support her through her late son’s illness.
During Sunday’s show, the former pop star discussed the passing of her three year old son Ethan in 2002, before singing a track that evoked some of her feelings about her loss. Speaking of the overwhelming amount of positive messages she’s received since it aired, Ryan says she’s “over the moon” at the chance to work with the charity.
“Off the back [of my audition] I’m working – which I’m absolutely overjoyed about – with a charity for metabolic diseases, called Climb,” Ryan told RadioTimes.com. “At the time they helped me incredibly. They’re only a very small charity [focused on] rare diseases in children.
“They messaged me on my music page saying they’d seen my audition and that they were very moved by it, and would I be interested in getting involved in the charity as an ambassador to help raise awareness for the cause. It’s really made my day.”
Ryan hopes that as part of this work she can release a song she penned for Ethan, who suffered from the rare genetic disease Sandhoff Syndrome.
“I had a record that was on my last album that I wrote for Ethan and that was all I wanted to do when it was actually happening. I’m hopefully going to release that as a charity record and then donations and proceeds go to charity. That’s hopefully what will be happening.”
Ryan, 40, admits it “probably wasn’t that easy” for her seven-year-old son Sebastian seeing her get emotional when she performed for Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger. She herself admits she wasn’t sure she was going to get through the ‘room stage’ after the judges asked her to sing Sarah McLachlan’s Angel, which had played at her son’s funeral. But she says Sebastian is taking the newfound interest in his mum “in his stride”. In fact, it was he who pushed Ryan to audition again after she first took part in the show in 2007, reaching the Bootcamp stage of the competition.
“A friend of his at school had said that I’d done it many years ago and he woke up one day and said, ‘Mum, can you only go for The X Factor once?’ I said, ‘No son, you can’t do it again.’ He was like, ‘I think you should do it! You should do it!”
Asked what’s on his wish list if she now goes on to win, Ryan joked: “He just wants to meet Simon Cowell, that’s all he keeps going on about!”
For now, Ryan – who will return to her day job at Aldi in Tamworth in the next couple of weeks – says it’s all about working on her nerves. Despite having had a record contract in the past, charting in the top thirty and touring with Boyzone, she says when she got into the X Factor audition room “it didn’t feel like I had any experience”.
“There’s lots and lots of talent: tough competition, most certainly.
“I do feel ready for it. If I can get my nerves in check. That’s what everyone’s saying at the moment: Rebekah just rein it in! If I do that I’ll be fine, if I can’t, god help me!”
The X Factor returns this Saturday at 8:15pm and Sunday at 8:00pm on ITV