The remaining contestants take time off from rehearsals

The X Factor finalists met the real heroes they will be singing about when they perform their charity single Heroes this Sunday.

Cher Lloyd, Katie Waissel, Matt Cardle, Rebecca Ferguson and the gang were given a tour of Headley Court Military Hospital in Surrey where they met servicemen and women injured fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘The solders are all brilliant guys,’ says Cher, 17.

‘I met this one man called Sean who was so nice.

‘He’d lost both his legs, some fingers and most of his sight but he sat there with a big smile on his face while we were chatting away.’

The final 16 acts from the competition will be reunited this weekend to perform the cover of the David Bowie classic, available for download during the show.

Through the Help For Heroes charity, the proceeds will help fund five regional personnel recovery centres for the kind of brave individuals The X Factor contestants will never forget.

‘It was an amazing experience,’ says Matt, 27. ‘Their spirit is quite something, so positive and a massive inspiration.’

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Esme Riley