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College student to sing National Anthem for 82,000 people at Six Nations game

An A-Level student has said it is “surreal” to be singing at Twickenham Stadium ahead of England’s Six Nations game against Wales on Saturday.

Naomi Simon, 17, from York will be singing the National Anthem and the hymn Jerusalem in front of 82,000 people, which will mark her biggest performance yet.

Ms Simon, who won the BBC Young Chorister of the Year award in December 2022, said the opportunities after winning the competition has been “extraordinary” and reflected on her growth as a singer.

The student at Rugby School in Warwickshire told the PA news agency: “It’s surreal. The fact that out of everyone they picked me. It’s a great opportunity.

A family of three pose for a picture
Naomi Simon (right) with her mother, Frances (middle) and her father, Carey (left), after she sang at an NSPCC event (Frances Simon)

“I feel very proud where I’ve come because the evolution of my singing started off as me not being as confident, but now to be singing at such a big arena is pretty spectacular.”

She said the scale of the performance is so huge she has found it hard to comprehend the event.

Speaking from her hotel room in Brentwood ahead of her performance, Ms Simon said: “It’s one of those things where it’s so extraordinary you can’t fully comprehend it until you get there and you do it.

“I’m not really comprehending how massive it is. I’m really excited, but I think the nerves will kick in.”

To subdue her nerves, she said she will “pray and breathe really deeply”.

The 17-year-old’s mother, Frances, said her daughter’s performance at Twickenham feels poignant after Ms Simon’s rugby-loving grandfather died last week.

Mrs Simon, 48, who works in talent management, told PA: “We’ve been really proud of Naomi’s resilience as well because my dear dad passed away aged 94 last Wednesday.

“He was huge rugby fan and he would have been watching the match.

“He was super proud of Naomi so we’re really proud of her and particularly how she’s coped in the last week.”

Ms Simon watched her first rugby game last year after she sang the National Anthem at a women’s rugby match at StoneX Stadium, Saracens in London.

She described feeling “such a rush” watching the game, but is looking forward to joining her mum to watch England face Wales at Twickenham.

Ms Simon began singing at church with her father – Carey, 55, a former alter boy – from a young age and decided to train as a singer at aged seven.

She hopes to become a professional jazz singer and is pursuing her dream of performing at renowned arenas.

“I want to be a jazz singer. I just want to be performing everywhere as much as possible,” she said.

“I want to start off singing at London jazz bars. The O2 Arena is pretty incredible, but I think that’s everyone dream to perform there.

“I just know I love singing, so regardless of where I’m doing it, it’s just so important that I sing.”

Family selfie
Naomi Simon’s family said they are proud to see her perform the national anthem at Twickenham (Frances Simon)

The young singer said winning the BBC Young Chorister of the Year award made her realise her passion to pursue singing as a career.

She said: “The opportunities post winning the competition was just extraordinary.

“A lot of what’s been happening in the past year is thanks to winning that competition, so it’s really kickstarted a career and more jobs in the future and hopefully that will continue to flourish.”

“It’s the life that I want to pursue in the future, singing professionally.”

She hopes sharing her singing journey will inspire others to pursue their passions and encourage others to “believe in yourself”.

“I’d say that regardless of your background or where you’re from, it’s definitely possible,” she said.

“When I first started out, I would have never imagined that I would be where I am now.

“If you aim high, and believe in yourself, I think it’s really possible.”