Back to The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018

Joseph Cook

Category: Art and talent

Love IS wonderful, Joseph! Thanks so much for making my day more lovely than before.

Love Changes Everything

Joseph Cook, 31, is on the Autistic spectrum and generally shies away from attention or group situations where he may perceive that he is in the limelight. Which is why it was a shock to everyone when he won Out There’s talent competition, singing Love Changes Everything and revealing an incredible singing voice in the process.

Joseph had moved back in with his mum for lockdown with his support team keeping in regular contact with Zoom calls.

Pre-lockdown, Joseph attended the Out There (part of Outreach3Way) Thursday evening social group, which holds a quarterly talent contest. Joseph had never entered the competition before. With lockdown restrictions in place, the talent contest this time was done virtually with video entries accepted.

His team passed on the details to his mum who initially suggested that Joseph enter telling some jokes. However, as a massive Michael Ball fan, he decided to have his mum film him singing his favourite song, Love Changes Everything, and was amazed when he won.

Staff and friends were overwhelmed when they saw and heard the video, not realising that Joseph had this talent that no one knew about. The response was phenomenal and Joseph touched many hearts, especially those who know him well, and who never knew this side to him.

Here’s just a small selection of the feedback he got for his video:

 “I thought his performance was absolutely awesome and I loved it!! You need to watch this – it is absolutely brilliant. How can we make sure that it brings a little chunk of happiness to as many people as possible!!” Dave Robinson, Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager at Dimensions

“Real talent and sung with such passion. Please do tell Joseph I thought he was fabulous and I hope he’s going to sing more often for people!” Rachael Dodgson, Managing Director, Dimensions.

“Love IS wonderful, Joseph! Thanks so much for making my day more lovely than before.” Paul Pargeter, Better Practice Manager Dimensions.

His entry was sent in to the Michael Ball radio show, and so far nothing has been heard back, but watch this space!

Joseph loves singing, but doesn’t like performing in front of others, preferring one to one interactions. Instead he tends to save his singing for when he is working at a charity shop and singing along to the music when he goes supermarket shopping.

Says Joseph, “I sing because I like it. I didn’t like choirs as they are too noisy and I don’t like to sit still. My favourite songs to sing along to are Cliff Richard, Michael Ball, Belinda Carlisle and a bit of everything.”

He also has an incredible memory and can name any song and artist that he hears. He also has a passion for quiz shows and is especially good at naming their presenters.

So how does it feel to be a Coronavirus Leaders’ List winner? “It feels ok, thank you.”

Joseph felt very proud of his achievement and it has given him confidence, saying, “I will enter more competitions in future, I’d love to.” He has spent his prize voucher on a new CD.

Says Alison Warner, Assistant Locality Manager at Outreach 3Way who nominated Joseph for the award, “We will now be offering the opportunity for anyone to enter our talent show virtually in the future.

Joseph’s entry has enabled us to review how we run our talent show, and for this we are truly grateful as there may be other talents that we have previously been unaware of due to people not enjoying performing in front of staff or peers.

If Joseph had not gone home to his mum during lockdown, the team would not have known how confident Joseph can be and how much he enjoys singing, along with a talent for learning songs off by heart.”

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