Three award-winning girls are jumping for joy after featuring in one of the most heartwarming TV adverts of the year.
The highly anticipated John Lewis Christmas advert has just been released - and it’s got a South Tyneside connection!
It includes a photograph of Kristie Harrington, 18, Sofie Lincoln, 15, and Gabriel Evans, 14, who are all gymnasts with the South Tyneside Gymnastics Club.
The upbeat festive production - considered a marker of the start of the UK Christmas shopping season - begins with a dad carrying out last-minute assembly of his daughter’s secret present of a trampoline on Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile, just four seconds into the production, the little girl can be seen bouncing on her bed with a photograph of the South Tyneside girls on the wall behind her.
Ian Said, the director and senior coach at the gymnastics club, said: “It is fantastic. It is a real coup for them to say in years to come ‘I was on the John Lewis advert’.
It is one of those adverts that everyone looks forward to and everyone remembers. It is brilliant to be in something that goes out nationally at Christmas time and it is something that signifies Christmas 2016Ian Said, director and senior coach at South Tyneside Gymnastics Club
“It is one of those adverts that everyone looks forward to and everyone remembers. It is brilliant to be in something that goes out nationally at Christmas time and it is something that signifies Christmas 2016.”
What a year it has been for the girls.
They somersaulted to the top of the global podium when they won the world championships, held in Putian City, China earlier this year, in the Women’s Trio in the 13 to 19 age group, sharing top spot with their Russian counterparts.
Then, they won the Sports Team of the Year award at the Shields Gazette’s very own Best of South Tyneside Awards.
The John Lewis interest arose when the firm contacted the British Gymnastics organisation. They contacted Ian who said the club had no objection to using a photo of the trio - doing a split leap at the championships in China - for the Christmas advert.
This year’s advert is a departure from the emotion-laden tearjerkers of recent years.
The two-minute ad’s computer-generated stars - a couple of foxes, a badger, a squirrel and even a hedgehog who has ventured out of hibernation - conduct a midnight test of the trampoline in front of furious Buster the boxer, who is stuck inside the house, before he finally gets his turn on Christmas morning.
The ad is set to a cover of Randy Crawford’s 1980 jazz hit One Day I’ll Fly Away by London electronic group Vaults, who recorded it at Abbey Road studios with a 70-strong choir and 66-piece orchestra.
The Wildlife Trusts are this year’s charity partners for the campaign, and they will receive a donation from every £15 soft Buster or £12 soft wild animal toy sold in connection with the ad.
Quote from John Lewis to come