Cambridgeshire Police special to appear on prime time ITV Christmas special
A long-serving Cambridgeshire Special is due to feature in a one-off Christmas broadcast on ITV this week.
Assistant Chief Officer Alex Walden plays in the Blue Light Symphony Orchestra, which will perform alongside dance troupe Diversity and celebrities including Michael Ball, Alfie Boe and Leona Lewis in "A Night for the Emergency Services".
The Blue Light Orchestra was formed to bring together musical talent hidden in the UK's emergency services with the aim of promoting mental wellbeing through music.
It has more than 80 members, including representatives from forces including the Met, Surrey, City of London, Thames Valley, the British Transport Police and Merseyside.
The programme, which was filmed last month, will be broadcast from 9pm to 10pm on Wednesday (December 20).
Alex and the Blue Light Symphony Orchestra will accompany Emergency Medical Technician Lewis Quinn as he performs Bring Him Home with Michael Ball and Alfie Boe.
Alex, who has been a Special for 16 years, is based at Cambridgeshire Police HQ in Huntington, and manages the BBC Concert Orchestra in his regular career, said: "We met all of the artists appearing on the show and I think they found it a unique experience to hang out with members of the police, fire service and NHS.
"Watching Diversity close up was very special. Those guys are amazing and beautifully interpret the music they dance to.
"I've worked with Alfie Boe and Michael Ball with the BBC orchestra so I think I confused them turning up on this show as a musician/Special constable."
Alex studied music at A-level and learnt classical guitar but then decided to learn orchestra percussion and timpani in his 30s.
It was a love of making music with others that led to him joining the Blue Light Orchestra, which was established to support the Mind Blue Light campaign.
He said: "It is a great escape from the day-to-day pressures we feel at work. Playing in an orchestra requires a focus that makes you leave the other worries aside, if only for an hour or two at a time. The orchestra also helps promote a healthier awareness of mental health that can so easily effect emergency service colleagues."
Alex said there was a range of abilities in the orchestra, whose music director is a DC in Surrey and former Royal College of Music student. Another colleague was a former professional musician who became a PC in the Met.
Alex added: "I'm still quite new to the orchestra but it's really great fun. Like a lot of classical music repertoire we have moments that stretch our abilities (in some cases to the very edge of our capability) but we've had some wonderful moments when playing together.
"Not all members are police officers. Some are support staff, paramedics and other healthcare professionals."
The Mind Blue Light campaign aims to reduce the stigma of mental health and offer support to colleagues.