A humble Chorley soldier is just one decision away from appearing in the live finals of X Factor.
In fact, talented Jon Jo Kerr already knows if he has made it to the last 16 of the competition, but everyone else – including his own family, will have an anxious wait until Sunday to learn his fate.
The 28-year-old infantry soldier, who joined the Army to make his young son Bradley proud, was this week shown making it through the gruelling bootcamp stage of the talent contest.
The former Albany Science College pupil (pictured below) had to perform in front of judges Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow, Tulisa and Kelly Rowland, before again taking to the stage to sing in front of 5,000 people at Wembley. And, despite more than 40 people being cut from the process before even being given a second chance to sing, Jon Jo beat off stiff competition to make it down to the last eight of his category – the over 25s.
Speaking to the Guardian, Jon Jo said: “When we arrived for the first morning of bootcamp and we were told that some people were going straight home we were all shocked.
“Some people thought the judges were joking, but it was frightening to think that we might not even get a second chance to prove ourselves.
“I was in the second group, and when we were told that we were staying I must have jumped 20ft in the air.”Jon Jo was then put into a group to sing Breakeven by The Script at Wembley as part of the first challenge.
He added: “We didn’t get on to the stage until going up for midnight, but it seemed to go really well.
“It was nerve-racking performing in front of the four judges and it was actually easier to sing when there was 5,000 in the crowd. I decided to perform Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls for the second song, but we only had a few hours to learn it. I managed to get a standing ovation though and it felt completely surreal.
“I’m just a normal lad from Chorley and to have so many people standing and applauding was crazy. People were also hugging me as I made my way off the stage – it was just a brilliant experience.”
Jon Jo was brought back on to the stage for the third and final time to see whether he had done enough to make it through to judge’s houses.
“I was petrified as we made our way out on to the stage,” he said. “I knew there was only eight places and there was a lot of good singers in the group.
“I was the sixth name to be called out and I can just remember thinking that we were getting closer and closer to the end. When they actually read out my name I was in complete and utter shock.”
However, that wasn’t the end of the surprises for Jon Jo after he was transported back to a luxury London hotel to find out which judge had been chosen for his category.
“We were all standing in a room and all sorts was running through my head,” he said.
“When Louis Walsh walked through the door it was another surreal moment and to find out we were going to Barcelona was amazing.
“It fell at quite a good time too as I was on leave from the Army so I didn’t need to tell anyone where I was going and I’ve been able to keep it top secret. Only my wife knew where I was going – not even my family, so me getting through bootcamp was a complete surprise to them too.
“The house in Barcelona was amazing, but I’m not allowed to talk about what happened so people will have to watch and see.”
The father-of-two said he has made some good friends throughout the competition process and they’ve been shocked to learn he is a soldier.
“I suppose I don’t look like a typical soldier,” he laughed. “All of my mates down at the barracks have been glued to the telly though and when the programme is on my phone goes crazy.
“I’ve had so many messages of support on Facebook and messages on my answer machine and I can’t quite believe just how supportive people are being. It really does mean a lot to me.
“All of my family have been amazing and they are right behind me.
“I just want to do them and the people of Chorley proud and if I have made it through then it could be a really good chance to put Chorley on the map. We already have a lot of talented people – Michael Jennings for one and it would give me the chance to show just how good Chorley is.”
Jon Jo’s trip to Louis Walsh’s house in Barcelona will be aired on Saturday and Sunday on ITV1.
One person who will be watching every second is the soldier’s big sister Siobhan.
The hair stylist, who owns the Hair Lounge, in Horwich, and lives in Chorley, said: “We genuinely had no idea whether or not Jon Jo had made it through bootcamp so it was a complete emotional rollercoaster for us all as we watched the programme on telly. I couldn’t stop crying when they showed him, but I was getting really worried as they didn’t show him perform.
“They showed a short clip of him celebrating on Saturday night, but I didn’t know when that had been filmed so when they showed him actually getting through I was jumping around screaming.
“I was shocked as it’s so surreal to watch your brother on the television and we’ve all been telling him to go for it for a long time. Whatever happens though we are all so, so proud and think he has done absolutely amazing.”
Send your messages of support to Jon Jo to: email@example.com