Eurovision 2022: Sam Ryder’s hometown reacts to his performance

Richard Smith/BBC

Sam Ryder said he cannot wait to get home and hug his grandad after giving the UK its best Eurovision Song Contest result in almost 25 years. What has the reaction been to his performance in his hometown?

On Sunday, the 32-year-old singer from Maldon, Essex tweeted his thanks to supporters following his second place finish in Turin on Saturday, beaten only by Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, after the public vote was added to the scores.

Ryder, a former construction worker, first found fame covering songs on TikTok during lockdown and released his debut EP The Sun’s Gonna Rise in 2021.

Nearly nine million people in the UK watched the competition on BBC One on Saturday and he has garnered support from across the country.

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In a post he said he was “still up in Space, Man” referring to the name of the power ballad that brought the UK its long-awaited success – not a win, but its best result since Imaani reached the same position with Where Are You in 1998.

Sam Ryder arrives at Heathrow Airport in London after finishing second in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Italy

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“Thank you all for blazing with love, positivity and kindness throughout this wild and euphoric experience,” Ryder said.

“We completely felt your support and we so deeply appreciated it.”

Sam Ryder performed power ballad Space Man during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin

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Speaking on Monday after returning to Britain, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he had “been swept up in the joy that is Eurovision” and it had been the “most rewarding experience ever”.

He told BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball that he had felt “so much encouragement and support and love from home”.

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‘It’s such a mood lift for the town’

Jaymey McIvor from Maldon

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As the owner of Talking Flowers, Jaymey McIvor, 23, Saturdays are his shop’s busiest day but despite being “very, very tired”, he says he “of course stayed up to watch Eurovision”.

He says Ryder’s performance was “incredible”.

As a business, the shop has shown its support for Ukraine since the start of the conflict and has even driven aid to its border so while Jaymey thinks it is “wonderful” that Ukraine actually took the top slot, he is delighted that the UK came second.

“For someone from Maldon to be so successful on the European stage is just wonderful, it’s such a mood lift for the town,” he said.

“Everyone was talking about it on the lead up so I’m sure that everyone is going to be coming in and talking about it.

“Maldon is a very tight community, we do support our own, so I think it’s really evident from the social media support that he’s had that word is definitely getting out that the boy from Maldon has done well.”

Jaymey added that he hopes Ryder goes on to have a “very successful career” in music.

“He is clearly very, very talented,” he said.

“He also seems like a genuinely lovely person, I’d really like to meet him, he’s got such a good vibe, such a wonderful energy.

“There are plenty of young musicians in this country that are looking at Sam Ryder and thinking ‘You know what, I reckon I could do that’ and they’re probably feeling very inspired this morning.”

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‘It’s just something that we needed’

Kay Ball in Maldon

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Kay Ball said she thinks that Ryder “has done fantastic”.

“I think that circumstances being different he may have won but I think to get as far as we did was great.”

She added that it is probably a combination of factors which led to the UK’s long-awaited rise from the points drought of the last decade and a half that had culminated in last place in both 2019 and 2021, the latter competition bringing the infamous “nul points”.

“[Ryder is] outgoing, he’s extremely talented, he’s something different and I think it’s just something that we wanted and needed at this time really,” she said.

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Home of salt, a mud race… and a Eurovision runner-up

Maldon at sunset

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  • Home to about 14,000 people, Maldon is an ancient town dating back to at least 913 AD
  • In the 10th Century it was raided by the Vikings in the Battle of Maldon
  • Hundreds of hardy competitors battle their way across a muddy riverbed to raise money for charity each year in the Maldon mud race
  • It is the home of the world-famous Maldon sea salt

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‘Absolutely brilliant’

Sandra Holmes in Maldon

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The result was “absolutely brilliant,” said Sandra Holmes.

“He seemed a really happy chap and he seemed to really enjoy what he was doing.

“I think he would have come first if it wasn’t for the circumstances of what’s going on in the world but it’s fantastic.”

She added that there is “absolutely” some local pride in the story of a “local lad doing good”.

“That’s what we like to see,” she said.

Sam Ryder performs during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin


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