Peterborough popstar Aston Merrygold is looking to make a lot of Christmas dreams come true this year, but at the top of his own wishlist is to perform in his home city once again.
The ex-JLS star is fronting a campaign to make sure thousands of children get a visit from Father Christmas in a few weeks’ time while also finding the time to plan a touring schedule which could take in Peterborough next year.
The former Jack Hunt pupil is currently hard at work as he promotes his latest single, ‘Too Late’, with recent trips including a visit to Australia to perform on their version of the X Factor.
But the warm weather Down Under will soon be replaced by a winter wrapped up with his family in Peterborough where he spends Christmas every year.
Yet even eight years on from finding fame on our own X Factor, there remains an understanding that not all families will enjoy such a comfortable festive period, which is why Aston has decided to promote the Cash for Kids ‘Mission Christmas’ initiative which last year raised £13.2 million worth of gifts to give to more than 300,000 children.
Having grown up with six younger siblings and shared their excitement at finding out what Father Christmas had left them on Christmas Day, there is now a sadness for Aston that so many children will not get the same joy this year.
“Christmas you think of being a magical time and kids just want to enjoy it and feel the magic of opening presents,” he said.
“The fact that it’s not happening to every one of us is heartbreaking. I could not help but get involved.
“Mission Christmas was a massive success before and it’s got to get better. It’s got to reach the masses as one in three of us won’t have a proper Christmas.
“Christmas is about the tree, family, Christmas morning opening presents. A lot of kids want that.
“I was aware of Mission Christmas before, but when they reached out I could not say no.
“Being the eldest of all my siblings - we have a large family - I’m used to seeing people enjoy Christmas.”
Aston’s own Christmas wish is to perform in front of his Peterborough fans in 2017.
The former Jack Hunt pupil continues to feel a strong affiliation towards his home city, even expressing amazement at the number of dessert restaurants which have popped up recently.
Yet the one thing he craves more than a dollop of ice cream or slice of chocolate cake is for the authorities to find him a venue which is the right size for him to perform in as he plans his next tour.
“Peterborough is at the top of my list,” said Aston.
“I’m pushing for next year if the right venue came about and it was the right time.
“We have to plan and prepare for these things, because if it goes wrong I will be the person to blame.”
Peterborough had a headline gig from Bryan Adams this year, while another music icon in Elton John is performing in the city next summer.
But Aston believes a concert hall would help the city attract some of the bigger names for a younger audience to listen to, and having performed with JLS in front of an estimated 18,500 fans at the Embankment in July 2011, he is fully aware that the demand is here for more music superstars to tour Peterborough.
“When they do summer events it’s great, but the city definitely needs a lot more action,” said Aston.
“Going back to Peterborough now, there’s a lot more to do now than when I was younger. Now is the time to strike and try to attract big names, more so the bigger artists of now and not just the classic artists.
“That will be attracting the younger crowd. Look at people like Drake and all the amazing artists that are going around internationally and storming the charts. I want to see them in the city.
“We have a great train service into London which is 40 minutes away. I think the city is more than capable to cater for these shows and make them happen.
“And there’s probably the demand for it. There’s a lot of young people in this city and it’s getting bigger and bigger.
“We have more restaurants and dessert shops. We didn’t have those when I was there. There’s all these new buildings. It’s ‘wow’, just evolving ever time I come back.”
For more information on Mission Christmas, visit http://www.cashforkids.uk.com/mission/.
And to donate:
l Buy a gift and drop it off at Wickes in Forty Acre Road, PE1 5PS, up to December 18
l Text MISSION to 70808 to donate £5 and a gift will be bought on your behalf. (Calls cost standard network rate and 100% of the donation goes to Cash for Kids).