'We had nothing coming in and I thought I could lose everything' says popular wedding singer Gavin Young who admits the pandemic drove him to 'breaking point'
He is the ebullient, happy go lucky entertainer who always has a smile on his face.
But singer Gavin Young is not afraid to admit that the pandemic drove him to breaking point.
Eighty five per cent of his income was wiped out in an instant, and even though he is a joiner by trade, Gavin couldn't even do that as his wife, Gemma was shielding as she suffers from a range of serious medical conditions.
These include transverse myelitis, which is inflammation of the spinal cord, and requires ongoing medical treatment and relapsing polychondritis (RPC) a rare autoimmune rheumatic disorder.
"Everything just stopped instantly on March 23rd last year," said Gavin who sings at weddings, gigs, events and functions all over Lancashire.
"We went into lockdown and everything was cancelled and my diary was empty for the forseeable future."
The introduction of furlough was no use to Gavin as he was one of the four million in the UK not entitled to a single penny of help from the government because his earnings were over the threshold. As he describes it himself he 'fell through every crack.'
It was more than just a bitter pill for Gavin (43) to swallow, it took him to the brink of financial disaster and in the end he suffered a mental breakdown.
"We had nothing coming in and at one point I thought I could lose everything, it was that bad," said Gavin.
"I have worked all my life, paid my taxes and done everything by the book so it was difficult to believe I was in that position.
"Seeing other people treating furlough as some kind of bonus or holiday was tough for me to watch."
Gavin found his voice at the age of five when he sang with the choir at his school, St Leonard's Primary in Padiham, and he went on to train professionally and eventually became head chorister at Blackburn Cathedral.
His vivacity and energy while singing is infectious and it is clear to see he loves what he does. But the pandemic took that all away.
The unwavering support of Gemma (40) and the couple's daughter, Elise (18) was what pulled Gavin through the toughest times. Married for 20 years Gemma said the vows they made on their wedding day really came into play in 2020.
"You promise to be there for each in good times and bad and also sickness and health and we always have been.
"It has been a bad year and in the end we just decided to stop watching the news, come off social media and concentrate on us."
The turning point came for Gavin, who lives in his hometown of Padiham, when someone asked him to sing for her dad's special birthday. With parties and gatherings out of the question due to Covid-19, Gavin came up with the idea of a 'doorstep sing' where he turns up outside the chosen person's house as a surprise and sings a selection of songs for 20 minutes.
The first 'doorstep sing' was a roaring success and Gavin was soon inundated with requests.
"It has been amazing," he said. "To see the look on people's faces when they open their front door to see me stood there singing for them is just fantastic."
Gavin's doorstep shows have helped to lift the spirits of people across Burnley as we start to prepare to finally emerge from lockdown.
And, when he heard about the difficulties Gavin had faced, the leader of Burnley Council, Coun. Mark Townsend researched a financial support package to help him get back in tune. So once again, Gavin's trademark beaming smile has returned.
"Wedding bookings are slowly coming back in along with other work so there is a lot to look foward to," said Gavin.