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Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009
Joe McElderry's got the X Factor

Kristie Kinghorn
By Kristie Kinghorn
From South Shields

Joe McElderry
Joe from South Shields has reached the last five of X Factor 2009

If you happen to drive through South Shields during the next few weeks, you're sure to recognise a certain local lad's face plastered all over the shop windows, pubs and schools.

That's because people from the home town of X Factor finalist Joe McElderry have gone all out to show how proud they are of the young singer.

The 18-year-old has fought off thousands of hopefuls to make it to the last four of the TV talent show.

Fans have been giving Joe good luck messages via Look North

I have lived in South Shields since the day I was born and never have I seen so much excitement here.

Everywhere I go people are talking about him.

I took a trip round South Shields to speak to some of Joe's biggest fans and caught up with some of his old friends too.

The head teacher

My first stop was Joe's old school, Harton Technology College, where head teacher Ken Gibson told me how proud he was he was to have Joe as an ex-pupil:

Teachers and pupils
Ken Gibson with Mr Lynch and pupils at the college

"He was a wonderful lad when he was at school. He came to light in the school's production of Grease when Mr Lynch gave him the lead role.

"He used to sing in the Christmas concerts and he really stood out from the rest. He is absolutely the best in the show.

"We sit around on a Saturday night to watch him.

"I spoke to him last week and I wished him all the best from Harton.

"He's a fabulous role model and so down to earth... He's destined for stardom."

The theatre director

As well as school concerts, Joe also enjoyed performing at his local theatre, The Customs House. Ray Spencer is the executive director:

"I've known Joe since he worked at the Customs House as a singing waiter. He had a stunning voice.

Ray Spencer
Ray Spencer shows his support for Joe McElderry

"He was nominated for the Pride of South Tyneside Awards in 2008 and won the young performer of the year.

"He's a natural talent and he's growing every week. He's such a sensible lad and he smiles all of the time.

"People loved working with him because he had such a winning smile. He always sees the sunny side of life and has a God-given talent.

"He has done a fantastic job raising the aspirations for South Tyneside and making everyone feel good."

The shopkeepers
Stevey Rostami
Stevey runs the local off licence and watches the show every week

The owner of Joe's local off-licence, Stevey Rostami, has covered the shop windows with posters to support the singer.

Stevey says he is very proud that Joe is his customer. He watches the show every week and thinks Joe is going to win.

The Westoe pub is also showing support. Tracy Atkinson, 29, works behind the bar:

"He's a really good singer and I think he'll get to the final. It was the manager's idea to put the posters in the window to support Joe."

Posters in shop window
There are banners and posters all over the town

The local newsagents, Graham Boweys, have supported Joe right from his first live show and always chat to me about him when I go in.

Sheila Hope, a sales assistant there, said: "I think he's absolutely brilliant. I want him to go all the way. It's brilliant for the town."

Kelly Barlow, 21, is a shift runner at Pizza Hut. She's smitten too:

"I think Joe is amazing," she said. "He's doing the North East proud... Only a Shields lad can get a standing ovation off the four judges."

The Mayor

The Mayor of South Tyneside, councillor John Anglin, said Joe had shown himself to have real talent:

Projection of Joe McElderry on side of South Shields Town Hall
An image of Joe was projected onto the side of the town hall

"Joe has been consistently good throughout the competition, but his performance on Saturday took him to a whole new level.

"We are all really proud of way Joe is flying the flag for South Tyneside, and for the three hours prior to Saturday's show we beamed his face onto South Shields Town Hall to show the nation that our borough is right behind him.

"Joe is only two shows from the final now and has shown himself to be a down-to-earth young man with remarkable talent.

"He really deserves to go all the way."

The mother

I also spoke to Joe's mam, Eileen Joyce, about what it's like to have a son in the limelight. She told me the support has been fantastic:

Cheryl Cole
Joe's mum said he was thrilled to have Cheryl Cole, above, as a mentor

"I keep taking Joe's fan mail down to him. I'm trying to reply to them all and I've been sending them signed photos. We've been getting whole class-fulls of fan mail.

"I want to say thanks to everyone who has supported us - the public, the corner shops that have posters in the windows and all the local businesses.

"Everyone has made an effort for him and it's great."

Read more of what Eileen had to say here:

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