Last Night of the Proms: what a sensational evening…

Last Night of the Proms: what a sensational evening…

Regular traveller Kate Bennell (who recently told us about her trip to the Greek islands) talks about her experience of attending the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

Last year I had the opportunity to go to the Last Night of the Proms… something I had dreamt of doing since I was a teenager.

We arrived early so that we could find our places easily and be there as the auditorium filled up. With my white cane and the directions of the staff (who were very helpful), it was easy to navigate our way around the Royal Albert Hall.

My work colleague, who arranged the tickets for me, kindly got us great seats so that I could enjoy the concert as much as possible. We were sat just three rows away from the ‘prommers’ (keen Proms enthusiasts) with the orchestra and choir beyond them. Apart from that we hadn’t made any special arrangements beforehand.

Kate Bennell at Last night of PromsThere was a simply amazing atmosphere. It was like a huge party and I felt at no disadvantage as a blind person. I was still able to soak up the atmosphere and really enjoy the music.

The crowds in the Royal Albert Hall were colossal with people from all over the world attending the concert. There were many different national flags on view, either hanging from the boxes or being waved by the audience. It felt like being surrounded by good friends as everyone was there to appreciate the entertainment. Although it is a large venue, being so packed meant it had a very intimate feel, which I loved.

The solo violinist Nicola Benedetti, who had recently won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, was wonderful. Her performance of Bruch’s violin concerto nearly brought me to tears.

I also really enjoyed the renditions of Granada, and Rodger and Hammerstein’s You’ll Never Walk Alone, sung by the Maltese tenor soloist Joseph Calleja. Hearing the sea shanties (a popular part of Last Night of the Proms) live was great fun and I enjoyed bobbing up and down to this piece and cheering as the orchestra played it faster and faster.

The choir and orchestra were outstanding and seemed to be having as much fun as the audience. I loved hearing the audience join in with balloons that whizzed around amongst the ‘prommers’.

As the music finished, some of the British medal winners from the Olympics came onto the stage wearing their gold medals while the crowd cheered on. This added another special memory to the evening.

At the end of the concert I was very lucky to learn that my uncle, who is a black cab driver in London, was parked just around the corner from the Royal Albert Hall and waiting to take us back to Victoria. This was a great help as it meant we were ahead of the crowds leaving both the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park.

The evening ended on yet another high when a kind guard on the crowded train noticed my white cane and allowed me to sit in the 1st class carriage.

It was an evening I will never forget.

Find out more about accessibility at the Royal Albert Hall on their website.

By Kate Bennell

Check out…

Official Theatre: accessing London’s theatres.
5 top tips for using accessible travel in London.
The British Paraorchestra releases its first single.

Don’t forget to get in touch by emailing us at editor@disabilityhorizons.com, tweeting us @DHorizons or sending us a message on Facebook.

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