There's not many people that can lay claim to having a song that's become an adopted national anthem, but Heather Small is one them.

Her song Proud, released on a solo album by the M People lead singer, is regularly used in countless British celebrations to encapsulate British achievement and passion.

And it's something that Heather is quite proud of herself for, especially as her song was used not only for the VE day 60th anniversary celebrations in Trafalgar Square, but also as an anthem for the 2012 Olympics.

Heather, a former Wandsworth Council worker, said: “I think it's quite humbling. When I heard Proud alongside the visuals for the Olympics, I was so moved to think that these people, the Paralympians and Olympians who are like super beings, would choose my song to encapsulate their endeavours.”

Speaking after a performance at Chilfest in Hertfordshire, Heather, said: “It does make me happy to have such a successful song because from a child, I'd wanted to have a song that people heard the first few bars of and recognised instantly and sang along to. I think I've cracked it with that one.

“It means so much to other people because you know, it makes a connection with so many different people and that's satisfying.”

Proud is by no means the only success the glamorous singer has had. Heather was the studio singer voice of the re-recorded version of Black Box's Ride on Time, that spent six weeks at no 1 in 1989.

She then went on to have hit after hit with M People in the 90s, reaping huge chart success with songs like Moving On Up to Search For The Hero, Sight for Sore Eyes and One Night in Heaven.

It was after this that Heather decided to release a solo album, and although she sometimes performs with M People, her solo career has gone from strength to strength.

“I was in a successful band but I just wanted to do something else, solo work,” she said. “A lot of people know me from that band and I love it and the songs, but sometimes you can't just stay in the same place. I don't sing to be comfortable and just to make money.”

Looking stunning at 51, Heather said: “I was 21 when I first signed my deal and now I'm 51. I do want to do some more recording but I've promised myself, I need to get out there and sing more.

“Life can be difficult so I think to myself, whatever it is you have, and what people have come to see, you give it to them 100 per cent.  I don't think of anything else apart from giving you a good show.”

Heather has also made her mark as a celebrity on television and radio. She was a huge hit as a contestant on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing in 2008 and her voice was also recently identified as the final voice to be recognised on a Heart Fm competition, winning the lucky person £100,000.

She said: “The winner was a family guy with two children. They were going to take the children to Disney to have really lovely family time. It felt absolutely brilliant that my voice helped him win.”

Heather has also had an unlikely presence on the hit television series Miranda.

Many people would recognise Heather as the singer mimicked by actress Sarah Hasland, who holds up a cardboard face of Heather on a stick and sings "What Have You Done Today to Make Me Feel Proud?"

Heather said: “Apparently, they were in the round, and character Stevie just started singing it, and they kept using it, and it became a little bit iconic but I didn't mind. My mum loved it.

“I never take myself seriously. And I thought if someone wants to sing my song on TV, doing an impersonation of me, and people know who I'm talking about, you know what, the girl from the flats did good!”

To find out where you can see Heather Small perform next, visit heathersmall-mpeople.com

Croydon Guardian: