SOUTH Shields singing star Joe McElderry is supporting the venue where his career began.
The X Factor and Popstar to Operastar champ is raising money for the Customs House.
After kicking off his new Evolution tour at the Mill Dam venue on Saturday night, Joe’s Sunday matinee show will see all proceeds go straight back to the theatre.
The 23-year-old, from Westoe, South Shields, is urging more people to use the venue where he says he has fond memories of performing.
He first stepped out onto the stage at the age of 16, when he had been singing for just 18 months.
But his performance saw him named the Gazette’s Young Performer of the Year 2008, the year before he rose to victory on The X Factor.
He said: “I actually had my first job at the Customs House as well. I started there in 2008 working in the kitchen washing the dishes.
“Being part of that culture was just so exciting and seeing all of the amazing people coming there to perform just made me want to be a part of it.
“I spent a lot of time at the Customs House going to drama clubs and performing and I just loved it.”
Joe, who also came out on top in reality show The Jump, added: “I was asked to do the Charity Gala last weekend but I couldn’t make it, so I decided to give all the proceeds from one of my gigs to the venue instead.
“I loved my time working there and it’s amazing that things have come so full circle.
“A lot of performers have come from this area and I think if we can do something to help the venue, then it’s important that we do.
“I think people would really miss the Customs House if it was gone. It’s got a great community spirit and we’re very fortunate to have it.
“The Customs House has always supported me throughout everything I’ve done, so I’ll do whatever I can to support it.”
Joe is kicking off his tour at the Customs House on Saturday, at 7.30pm.
The Sunday matinee performance, at 2.30pm, will see all proceeds go to the venue.
A second Sunday show starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost from £20.50. To book, go to www.customshouse.co.uk or call the box office on 454 1234.