Page last updated at 19:06 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Homecoming for X Factor star Joe

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Joe McElderry said it felt "really strange" to return home as a celebrity.

Thousands of people turned out for the homecoming of Tyneside X Factor winner Joe McElderry.

The 18-year-old signed copies of his new CD at the HMV store in his home town of South Shields.

More than 2,000 people queued for hours to be in with a chance of winning 500 tickets for the signing event.

McElderry, who was watched by 9 million TV viewers winning the talent show on Sunday, described his homecoming as "very, very surreal".

The teenager, who until four months ago lived in a upstairs flat in South Shields and studied performing arts at Newcastle College, said: "It's been pretty mental. There were loads of people at the airport and loads of people at the back of the shop, so it's pretty crazy."

One of the lucky 500 to be allowed into the music store was 18-year-old Chelsea Allan, from South Shields.

She said: "It was absolutely amazing. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him."

Her friend Kimberley Scott, 16, also from South Shields, added: "I just cannot believe I spoke to him. I'll never forget this day."

Joe McElderry and his grandmother Hilda
Joe's grandmother Hilda was among those who turned out to greet him

Local girl Paige Flaherty, 15, was with a group of her friends and they all met the pop star and got singles signed.

"It was amazing. I was so excited I didn't know what to say to him," she said.

Meanwhile McElderry refused to rule out a career in Hollywood but said he was keeping his Geordie accent.

He said: "I wouldn't mind a Hollywood career and I am not ditching the accent. They would have to take it or leave it."

He praised the people of South Shields for their support, adding: "I just cannot thank the people enough who supported me.

"And I am really happy to come back to my hometown first to do a signing. South Shields is always going to be home."



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