Crowd brought to tears by Andrea Bocelli's performance at Liverpool's Pier Head

People in the crowd were reduced to tears as Andrea Bocelli delivered a rousing performance to draw Cunard's naming ceremony at Liverpool's Pier Head to a close.

Mr Bocelli performed to thousands on the waterfront, who gathered for Cunard's naming ceremony for its newest liner Queen Anne. The ceremony, which saw the tradition of a Champagne bottle smashed against the ship to bring it luck, was hosted by Matt and Emma Willis and also saw performances from DJ Lauren Lo Sung, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.

During the ceremony, Cunard revealed the City of Liverpool as the godparent of Queen Anne, in recognition of the long-standing relationship between the city and the cruise line. Liverpool was the birthplace of Cunard and its first transatlantic crossing departed from the city in July 1840.

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On behalf of the city of Liverpool, the luxury cruise line selected five Liverpool 'icons' to represent the city and name Queen Anne officially. They are Spice Girl Melanie C, broadcaster and community leader Ngunan Adamu, restaurant entrepreneur Natalie Haywood, Liverpool music and cultural legend Jayne Casey, and British Olympic heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

After the five women delivered the traditional Champagne bottle smash, Mr Bocelli took to the stage to perform two songs, accompanied by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He finished with 'Time To Say Goodbye', which was met with a minute-long round of applause from an appreciative crowd.

Friends Liz Walsh and Lyn Kelly, who live in Liverpool city centre, told the ECHO they were reduced to tears by the tenor's voice.

Lyn Kelly and Liz Walsh at Liverpool's Pier Head for the Cunard naming ceremony
Lyn Kelly and Liz Walsh at Liverpool's Pier Head for the Cunard naming ceremony -Credit:Dan Haygarth / Liverpool ECHO

Lyn said: "It was fabulous, we loved it. We love that Cunard chose to hold the event in our city - it's a big part of Liverpool.

"We both have family who were seafarers - my grandad was a radio officer. Everyone in this city knows someone who worked for them or in that industry."

Liz said: "We came down because we knew how good it would be. It was the same last year with Eurovision. The atmosphere today was so nice, it all came together, this is what we're best at in this city.

"The performances were great - we both cried at Bocelli, he was amazing. We're staying for the evening now as well.

Lyn added: "We were standing next to a group from Leeds - they said to us 'you've got such a lovely city'. That was so nice to hear."

After the ceremony, Katarina Johnson-Thompson spoke to the ECHO about her pride in taking part. The Woolton heptathlete said: "I live ten minutes up the road, so to have such a big ceremony and event - launching a ship as big as that just down the road from where I live is a surreal experience.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson (second from left) during the naming ceremony at Liverpool Pier Head for Cunard's Queen Anne
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (second from left) during the naming ceremony at Liverpool Pier Head for Cunard's Queen Anne -Credit:Peter Byrne/PA Wire

"To be standing alongside such incredible women and seeing their list of achievements took me aback. To be included with those women and to see all the people out, with such a big turnout, it's been such an amazing day - one that I didn't expect when I woke up this morning."

Katie McAlister, president of Cunard, said: “Liverpool is the spiritual home of Cunard and we are therefore delighted, and feel it very fitting, that the city of Liverpool is the godparent to Queen Anne.

“It’s testament to the enduring relationship that connects Cunard and the city in which it was founded to the present day when we officially named our new ship on the Liverpool waterfront, in front of the Cunard Building.

“We are equally delighted to have our five chosen Liverpool icons represent the city in the ceremony. All remarkable in their own right, they have inspired generations and collectively capture the essence of the city that has shaped global culture.”

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