Millions watched me on BGT final – but hours before I was rushed to hospital with near fatal illness… I kept it secret | The Sun

LYING in a hospital bed, Tom Ball feared he was about to miss out on the biggest moment of his life.

Hours before the Britain's Got Talent finale in June this year, the school teacher from West Sussex was rushed to A&E with a life-threatening condition.


Having wowed fans and judges Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon – who gave him a standing ovation – with his singing voice during his audition, Tom worried he wouldn't get the chance to battle it out for the grand prize.

"I just kept thinking, I can't be here. This can't be happening. I've got the final in two days," he tells The Sun as he opens up about the ordeal publicly for the first time.

Tom has type one diabetes and was suffering from ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal complication where the body doesn't have enough insulin to break down sugar into energy.

Throughout the competition Tom, 24, had kept a close eye on his chronic condition, as his blood sugar levels can affect his ability to sing.

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But two days before the BGT final he felt horrendously unwell.

"I just started feeling horrendous. I was feeling really sick and just completely drained," Tom, an ambassador for Diabetes UK, recalls.

"I was sitting in bed after a day of trying to get my ketones under control, and my wife and I ended up ringing NHS 111, who told us to head to the hospital as things weren't coming under control.

"I've been hospitalised for diabetes maybe eight times in my life. For me to go it had to be serious."

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Tom's wife Hannah, 25, an NHS nurse, drove him to A&E where he was admitted and spent around two hours having specialist medical care to get his illness under control.

All the time, he was counting down the hours until he had to be fit enough to get on stage and sing in front of the nation.

Explaining how serious the complication can be, Tom explains: " The build-up of toxins can attack your body and cause you to lose limbs. It typically affects your fingers and toes first.

"It can also take your sight – like many conditions that come along with diabetes.

"Knowing all this while trying to keep positive ahead of the BGT final was really hard."

Back to rehearsals

Tom finally got back home at around 4am and was almost straight back into rehearsals for the final.

Ketoacidosis can leave the sufferer dizzy, confused, nauseous and confused – symptoms that would be a nightmare for doing a live show.

Normally a hospital admission for an attack this serious takes days to recover – but Tom didn't have days.

After being discharged he decided not to tell producers what had happened in case he was forced to pull out.

He was determined to perform in the live final no matter what, knowing it could change his life – and it did.

"I really didn't want any kind of excuses put out there if my performance was bad or didn't go to plan," he says.

"I wanted how well I did or didn't do to be about me, not my diabetes.

"I did tell my researcher in case something went really wrong, but I asked them not to tell anyone at all. I didn't want it made into an issue. It was kept secret."

Life-changing

When the live final came around on June 5, Tom narrowly missed out on taking the crown, finishing in third place out of 11.

Since the show he's spent much of his time singing across Europe, Canada, and America.

Putting his education skills to good use, he's also just launched Tom Ball's Rising Stars, an online music school.

Tom says his BGT experience was overwhelmingly positive – and jokes the best bit was the grub.

"We were served restaurant standard food," he says. "Each day we got given three options to pick from and it was just amazing.

"I'd go do whatever tasks I had on and come back to my room and there would be my lunch ready and waiting.

"I'd 100 per cent do it again for the food!"

Life-long friendships

While the audience get to see the contestants on stage, Tom says behind the scenes there is a 'mini-city' built to house everyone.

Each act is given their own dressing room and they're all allowed to socialise should they want.

But for singer Tom that was more difficult as he was placed on vocal rest for 72 hours at a time during the show.

"I developed my own way of communication when I wasn't allowed to speak," he says.

"By the end of the three days I was able to nod at my family and they'd know what I mean."

While he wasn't victorious, Tom says he feels like he won anyway as he made life-long friends on the show.

Admitting it could have been a very "lonely" experience if everyone hadn't gotten on so well, he says he recently saw impressionist Ben Nicholas, ventriloquist act Jamie Leahey & Chuck and comedian Eva Abley at a charity event.

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He adds: "I was a really lovely environment to be in. I came away with life-long friends. It's just incredible.

"It's lovely to be able to see them and catch up. We all deserved to be in that final and I'm glad we came away friends."


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