Ravi's Dream Team outside the theatre after recording their B GT audition. Samuel is front row left on crutches

Dreams come true for Samuel after BGT performance and the end of chemo

A teenager who is part of a choir that won the nation’s hearts on Britain’s Got Talent celebrated another milestone just days later – ringing the bell to signify the end of his chemotherapy treatment.

Kent College pupil Samuel Bourdillon, 13, is part of Ravi’s Dream Team, a choir fronted by eight-year-old Ravi Adelekan, who like Samuel was diagnosed with a brain tumour and faced gruelling surgery to remove it.

The group, made up of Ravi and his younger sister Maya, family members, other children with brain tumours and friends, teachers and doctors, performed A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman musical, winning the golden buzzer from judge Alesha Dixon.

Their performance left Alesha and fellow judge Amanda Holden in tears, and Samuel’s mum Karen said it was a huge boost for him.

Ringing the bell was an equally emotional moment, after 19 months of gruelling treatment at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and the Royal Marsden in Surrey.

She said: “The performance and ringing the bell were equally exciting for Samuel and us as his parents, in different ways.

“The bell symbolised the end of this part of his journey, and has been his goal since he started chemo, so to finally get there was emotional.

“It was also a really proud moment for us that he has got through 19 months of chemo and is still positive and smiling and wanting to do things like being part of the choir, when it would have been very easy for him to say he was feeling rubbish and couldn’t face it.

“Both occasions were a massive boost for him and being part of the choir is fantastic because it is full of people who just get it, and have faced the same struggles and live with the same challenges.”

Samuel, who lives with Karen and dad Paul in Chartham, near Canterbury, was first diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of four, after developing worrying symptoms over several months including vomiting, tripping over, and limping.

After several trips to see a GP, Karen described the symptoms to a family friend who was a physiotherapist, and she raised the possibility of a brain tumour.

Karen said: “We went back to the GP and were lucky enough to have an MRI scan three days later. When the surgeon saw the images, he said Samuel would not have survived if we’d waited another few weeks because of how fast it was growing.

“It was such a shock; I had thought we would be able to rule a tumour out, but since then the care and treatment Samuel has received has been second to none.

“Our consultant Jill Urand, who has been with us since the beginning, and is fantastic, as are the team on Padua ward.

“They all care in the real sense of the word, and he has been looked after so well.”

Samuel developed a rare complication following his first surgery, and had to spend more than six months in hospital re-learning how to walk, talk, and feed himself. He received intensive specialist physiotherapy as well as counselling to help him adjust to his condition.

Karen said: “It was a really tough period but the care we received was amazing and I think it has played a part in his longer-term recovery.

“Because the tumour is growing from within his brain stem, it would be very difficult to remove it all so it is something he has to live with.

“Samuel had a second procedure aged nine after it grew back and they removed as much as they could, but when it started to grow again they decided to try chemotherapy, which has kept the tumour stable. It hasn’t shrunk, but it hasn’t grown, and we hope it will remain stable now the chemo is over.”

Karen got to know Ravi’s family through a WhatsApp group for parents of children with tumours, and Samuel took part in a fundraising fashion show they organised. They then put an appeal out for anyone who liked to sing, and as the whole family is musical, with Karen and Paul both music teachers and Samuel enjoying singing and playing the drums, they decided to volunteer.

Karen said: “Samuel missed so much of school because of his treatment and the choir has been an amazing support for him. His friends have been fantastic at keeping in touch but there are times when he’s felt very isolated.

“We recorded the audition in January, and it was a brilliant experience and such a shock to get the golden buzzer.

“It was a really surreal moment to look up and see the golden ticker tape, and watching it back you can really see the joy on the children’s faces.

“The hardest part has been keeping it a secret since then, and going to work the next day as if nothing had happened!” 

The choir members are now preparing for the live semi-finals later this month, with rehearsals in Brighton, where Ravi lives, and online.

Karen said: “There has been such a lovely response to the audition, and I think it shows that no matter what life throws at you, you have to get on with it and follow your dreams.

“The hospital teams are really behind Samuel and the choir, and so excited for him. The Britain’s Got Talent team are super supportive and helping us with things like styling as we prepare.

“We can’t wait to see what happens next!”

Watch the Britain’s Got Talent audition on YouTube. Samuel is in the front row to the right of Ravi, on crutches after fracturing his knee.

You can find out more about Ravi and his fundraising online.