Hillsborough song is Xmas number one

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He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother © The Justice Collective

He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother © The Justice Collective

The Justice Collective and Hillsborough campaigners are celebrating a famous pop chart victory tonight after they overcame X Factor winner James Arthur in what was said to be the tightest-ever battle to become the Christmas Number One.

Featuring established artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams and Mel C, the group’s cover of The Hollies’ hit ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ won the race to the top spot after its release on Monday, outselling copies of James Arthur’s ‘Impossible’ as he dropped one place to number two.

The official Christmas Number One was announced on BBC Radio One on Sunday evening after a week of intense Twitter campaigning to encourage sales ended at midnight on Saturday.

X Factor winner Arthur had himself tweeted to urge people to go out and buy The Justice Collective’s single. He said: “Platinum single baby! Not a bad start. Thanks to all who bought it now make sure the Hillsborough tune is number 1!!”

In what has been a momentous week for the families of those who died at Hillsborough, the success of the charity single, which aimed to raise funds towards legal costs in the fight for justice, was also given a further boost when Chancellor George Osborne announced on Wednesday that he would effectively ‘waive’ the VAT on sales of the single.

Robbie Williams appears on the Hillsborough charity single © The Justice Collective

Robbie Williams appears on the Hillsborough charity single © The Justice Collective

Demand for copies is said to have been high throughout the past seven days with local stockists such as HMV in Liverpool One reporting record sales, and claiming in midweek that if demand continued the single could generate up to a quarter of a million sales by the end of the week to top the festive charts.

Gennaro Castaldo from HMV in Liverpool One said earlier this week: “Not surprisingly we’re seeing particularly phenomenal demand in Liverpool and the North West. But sales are pretty good elsewhere, which show that the campaign is connecting with people around the rest of the country too.”

Peter Hooton, lead singer of The Farm and one of the main organisers of the single, insisted the number one was for the families of the 96 Liverpool fans and in memory of those who died at Hillsborough. He added: “For me it’s not just about money, it’s keeping the story in the headlines. People can use different skills and what we’ve done really is use them skills and our contacts to get to this point.”

Producer Guy Chambers with Sir Paul McCartney © MPL Communications LTD

Producer Guy Chambers with Sir Paul McCartney © MPL Communications LTD

Hillsborough survivor Peter Carney, 53, believes the single is a way of repaying the support from Everton FC after they paid tribute to the 96 by playing the original single before their home game against Newcastle United in September.

He said: “I was lucky enough to be in the ground that night and it was fantastic to see the way it went down in the ground. To see all of the city’s talent come together and do it is just fantastic.

“It’s a way of showing their support for the truth coming out with this single coming out on the back of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report and this is a celebration of that.

“What the song talks about is support and for it to be number one is a landmark.”

About Joel Richards, JMU Journalism