X Factor finalist Jahmene Douglas came back to Swindon to gather up home town support on Wednesday 5 December in advance of his night with destiny in front of millions of television viewers on Saturday evening.
In a busy day of meeting and greeting family, friends, former colleagues and the cheering public – surrounded by high security to ensure his safety – Jahmene flew into town with his mentor Nicole Scherzinger, arriving by helicopter on the school field at Abbey Meads Primary School.
They spent a lot of time talking to children on the far side of the school field before being whisked away to meet former colleagues at the North Swindon District Centre Asda Walmart.
Amanda Wray, administrator at Butterflies Children Centre at Abbey Meads school, said she asked one of the TV crew if Jahmene would have his picture taken before he got into the car right outside their front door.
"They said they would see what they could do and told us to be ready. We all thought it was a long shot but true to their word the producer asked Jahmene and Nicole to stand behind the Butteflies banner and they were happy to pose with us.
"Jahmene didn’t say anything; he was enigmatic and relaxed, he seemed to have taken fame in his stride. Nicole thanked us for our comments about what she was wearing.
"We’re all grateful that they took a minute out of their busy day to be with us."
Jahmene and Nicole with Butterflies team members from left to right: Maureen Purcell, Catherine Talmage, Jayne Holloway, Cath Ferguson and centre manager Tanya Parkinson
Hundreds of people – including Jahmene’s mum Mandy – waited in the cold for a couple of hours at the North Swindon Centre for Jahmene and Nicole to arrive. There were cheers, tears and lots of screaming as Jahmene waved and hugged people he used to work with.
Asda colleagues presented him and Mandy with a £10,000 donation to Woman’s Aid in recognition of the support it gave the family during very violent times in the past.
Mandy works with Women’s Aid and writes a hard-hitting, campaigning blog.
The cavalcade moved onto Gorse Hill Community Centre where Jahmene met members of the Bible Life Church which he attended and sang with choir. He credits singing in the church choir with helping him overcome his upbringing of living in fear from a brutal father who terrorised his mother. Nicole donned the purple robe and joined in to back her protege with other choir singers.
In the evening Jahmene was the star attraction at the Christmas lights switch on at Wharf Green in the town centre organised by inSwindon.
It was definitely standing room only as 28,000 packed into the town hoping to get a glimpse of their hero. Votes from Swindon on Saturday night could definitely put Jahmene in winning contention.
Pictures of Jahmene and Nicol at North Swindon Centre by Richard Wintle. See his pictures of the lights switch on at swindonlink
Photo right and below: Richard Wintle ©Calyx Multimedia, 41, Churchward Avenue, Rodbourne Cheney, Swindon SN2 1NJ • 01793 520131 MOB: 07836 205196 www.calyxpix.com