Little Mix mum on Jade’s first steps to stardom

Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall with her mum Norma.
Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall with her mum Norma.

Life has been a whirl for South Shields’ very own Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall.

And mum Norma loved whirling on the Waltzers when she was younger, though, as she explains, she had to limit her visits to the fairground – for the sake of her reputation.

“We used to go to the fair and the beach,” she told me.

“I loved the Waltzers, but to be honest I never went there very much.

“If you went there too often you got a bit of a reputation because the fair lads were players.”

Instead, she spent a lot of her time shopping in Shields, especially Frederick Street.

“Frederick Street was a hustle-bustle of a street, you could get anything you wanted from there.

“Alerton’s was an amazing shop and then there was Binns.

“I used to go to Shanes, in Frederick Street, for my coats.

Talking of coats, Norma (58) used to have an Afghan, a long leather coat ... and a crombie.

“I was a skinhead for a short while, when I was about 13 or 14,” reveals Norma.

“I went to the YMCA club and St Hilda’s. I had a crombie and boots, but I didn’t have a skinhead haircut.

“After that, I got into Free and became a bit of a hippy, and then I got a bit trendy.

“I was always into fashion and kept up with the trends. I had loons and flares at one time.”

Many people who live by the seaside don’t really appreciate what they’ve got, until they go away.

Take Jade, for example.

“I used to take Jade to the beach in the summer and go for picnics. When you live in South Shields, I don’t think you appreciate it.

“It’s like Jade now she lives away, every time she comes home she wants to go to Colman’s fish and chips and then to Minchellas.

“It is such a treat for her, and she appreciates it more now than when she was kid.

“Then, we used to go to the beach and to the Red Hut and get some chips.”

From the past to the present. I asked Norma about Jade’s phenomenal success.

“It’s a bit surreal. She was always musical, the first time we went on holiday she went into a karaoke competition and sang Robbie Williams’ You’re The One, and won it.

“She won 50 euros, and from there she got the music bug.

“She did dancing, tap and ballet, and joined the South Shields Amateur Dramatic Society.

“When she was eight years old she played one of Fagan’s gang in Oliver. She stayed with the juniors until she was 15, and eventually joined the seniors.

“When she was 14 she joined the John Christopher Company and got a residency singing at the Cosa Nostra in Sunderland.

“She used to go to summer school, and she loved that.

“She played Scaramouche in We will Rock You.”

And Jade has been rocking and entertaining us all ever since.

“She never had time to go anywhere else, she was always rehearsing or practising for gigs.”

All that hard work finally paid off big style when, after first taking part in X Factor at the age of 15, she eventually found fame with Little Mix.

“I am so glad she was put into a group,” says Norma.

“The rest, as they say, is history.”