HE’S the Oscar winning actor best known for his celebrated roles in Pride and Prejudice, The King’s Speech and the Bridget Jones films.

And now he’s encouraging Hampshire youngsters to follow in his famous footsteps.

Colin Firth has become the first patron of Encore Youth Theatre, based in Winchester.

The actor, who was born in Hampshire and went to Montgomery of Alamein Secondary School (now Kings’ School), Winchester and Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, said he was delighted to accept the role.

Noël Jones, Encore Youth Theatre’s artistic director said: “It is a real honour for us to welcome Colin Firth as patron. Our main ethos as always is to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment for young people to explore and develop their love for the theatre. We feel that with the addition of Colin, we are able to expose the fantastic talent that is available in Winchester and the surrounding areas, and highlight the level that can be achieved through hard-work and dedication”.

The group is currently looking for talented youngsters aged 11 to 18 to join the company for its next show, Fiddler on the Roof,which will be performed at Theatre Royal Winchester in February 2018.

An information evening takes place on May 25 at Kings’ School.

Go to encoreyouththeatre.co.uk for an application form and further information.