IT was supposed to be a big, fun, fundraising concert bringing the community back together after the silence of Covid.

A Night To Remember, hosted by Big Ian Donaghy and featuring his party band Huge plus guest performers, had already been postponed once, from February 26, and rescheduled for September 8.

Thursday's event was to be the first time the fund-raising musical extravaganza would have been held since February 2020 - just weeks before Covid struck.

What no-one could have known was that Thursday would also be the day on which Queen Elizabeth II, our longest-reigning monarch, would die.

The York Barbican had already been transformed with video screens and lighting.

But shortly before curtain-up word was spreading that the Queen had died.

The job of making the official announcement fell on the night's host, Big Ian.

York Press: David HarrisonDavid Harrison (Image: David Harrison)

Big Ian Donaghy calling for a minute's silence at the start of A Night To Remember

The audience fell silent as he stood on the stage.

“I have to announce that Queen Elizabeth II has died,” he said.

He then called for a minute's silence.

“I don’t care if you’re a monarchist or an anarchist," he told the audience. "Today some people have lost their mam, grandma or great-grandma. To anyone who’s lost their Mum I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Royalty doesn’t protect you from that. Please lets have a minute’s silence.”

You could have heard a pin drop, said John Madison, who was in the audience to review the show.

Then, with the minute's silence over, the 1400 strong crowd applauded, and the show began...

A house band made up of the nine members of Huge, plus guests Simon Snaize, Kieran O’Malley on fiddle and Gary Stewart on percussion, opened appropriately enough with The Show Must Go On, a classic by rock band Queen.

The evening, pulled together by musical director Geoge hall, also featured young musicians from York Music Forum led by Ian Chalk, some of whom will be playing at the Royal Albert Hall next month.

Performers on stage ranged from 13 to 83 with a set list from Diana Ross and Tina Turner to Elton John and Fleetwood Mac.

York Press: David HarrisonDavid Harrison (Image: David Harrison)

"Graham Hodge and Annie Donaghy melted hearts with a delicate acoustic handling of Time after Time," said John.

"Boss Caine gave Dire Straits Walk of Life a toe tapping country makeover.

"Las Vegas Ken returned, aged 75 with a new heart valve, ready to get the Barbican singing Wild Rover with fiddle wizard Kieran O’Malley.

"You could sense a family feel to those on stage. This is a collective on a mission to make a difference making a great noise together. Everybody sang backing vocals on every other singers songs."

John described the concert - which was an annual event until Covid - as the 'biggest concert to raise dementia awareness in the UK'.

It was held to support four causes in the city who have had a 'rough time' because of the pandemic: St.Leonard’s Hospice, Bereaved Children’s Support in York, Accessible Arts and Media and a series of small dementia projects in the city, including gardening clubs, bespoke art classes with Sue Clayton and the fully inclusive Singing for All Choir.

Big Ian admitted his heart had been pounding when he stood up, made the announcement about the Queen's death, and called for that minute's silence.

But thereafter it had all been about 'York helping York', he said.

"And we will be back next year!"