X Factor axing ‘gutting’ says former Worthing contestant

News that The X Factor has been axed has been described as ‘gutting’ by a former Worthing contestant.

Terry Winstanley stunned judges with his audition rendition of Michael Bolton’s To Love Somebody on the television music competition ten years ago.

The then 51-year-old made it to the Judges’ Houses stage of the competition – and his life has been different ever since.

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“One minute I was on a building site – the next I was at the 02 singing in front of thousands of people,” said Terry, now 61, this week.

Terry Winstanley, pictured in Worthing in 2011. Picture: Stephen Goodger

“It’s gutting that it’s been cancelled – my experience on it was amazing.”

Terry lived in Tarring at the time and worked as a HGV driver for a scaffolding company.

He was at home with his family and The X Factor was on TV and he blurted out: “I can do better than that.”

His family then egged him on to go on the show – but he said he did not even expect to get through the auditions.

Terry Winstanley, pictured in 2011. Picture: Gerald Thompson

But Terry’s soulful voice consistently impressed the judges throughout and he made it through to the last eight in the over 25’s category, headed by Louis Walsh.

“It was a fantastic experience – I would not have changed it for the world,” said Terry.

“I still speak to a few of the guys now. I got on with everybody on it.

“Kelly Rowland was a huge fan of mine – she was lovely.

“I think it is quite sad that it has been axed – it’s a bit of a shocker really.”

Since The X Factor, Terry has performed in the West End. He has also played gigs on cruises and in the Canary Islands - where he lived for a period of time.

And he bought and ran a couple of pubs in Sheffield – where he lives now – and often performed in these.

“The experience set me up for a different life,” said Terry.

“I went to places and spoke to people I had only dreamed of.

“The experience was extremely hard and tiring as we were doing 18-hour days, but it was one of the best moments in my life – similar to having children.”

ITV confirmed on Thursday (July 29), that there were ‘no current plans’ for another series of The X Factor.

Its statement followed reports in The Sun that the programme was being shelved by Simon Cowell for at least five years.

Former contestants have since reacted to the news, including Katie Waissel and Jedward – who said they were ‘delighted’ by the cancellation.

Katie previously made sexual abuse allegations about a member of The X Factor team – while Jedward claimed they were ill-treated.

When asked what he thought about the recent criticism, Terry said: “I don’t think anyone was treated badly – I was treated extremely well.

“That show gives people a chance – without it, people would have not gone anywhere.

“I think the show needs a rest, but it should come back with a different name maybe.

“It has been one of the best shows for years. I hope it does come back – I really do.”

Terry’s wife, Robina, known as Robbie, tragically died three months ago from high blood pressure, aged 67. They were together for 32 years.

“She was so proud of me and supportive of me,” said Terry, adding: “I’ve got to keep that in mind and be strong for her.”

The pair met in Worthing and lived there for 20 years. Their 38-year-old daughter, Ria, is currently Simon Cowell’s dog groomer, Terry said. And they have a 36-year-old son, Terry, who is a chartered accountant.

Their two grandchildren, Jordan and Jodie Piper, aged 21 and 19, live in Rustington, and Terry comes down a few times a year to see them.

Terry said people still recognise him in the street. “I was out in a restaurant the other week and a girl came over and asked for a picture with me.

“Nowadays I am quite an introvert and keep myself to myself. I am writing a children’s book at the moment and I am still doing some song writing.”