SHE’S the ultimate hometown hero in a Hampshire village.

Fans clamoured to catch a glimpse of TV star Amanda Holden as she returned to Bishop’s Waltham, where she spent much of her childhood.

Daily Echo:

More than 100 people queued through the small town’s streets to get into Hylands Store, a shop where the Britain’s Got Talent judge used to work in her teenage years.

Amanda was signing copies of her book, No Holding Back, and greeted old friends with hugs and kisses while star-struck residents talked about memories of her.

Amanda said: “I burst into tears at one point when I saw a girl that used to live at the top of my road.

“It’s just been ridiculous.

“There has been a lot of people who are in my book here today and it’s like I have summoned them up.

“Then there were people who I didn’t recognise at first so I have basically just said “Do I know you?” to everyone.”

On being back in the shop she added: “It feels the same. Maybe a bit posher than when I worked here but it’s got the same smell.

“I loved my time here and I’m glad to be back.” Neil Channon, owner of Hylands, said it meant a lot that Amanda chose the shop as a book tour venue.

He said: “She could have gone anywhere, to any book shop or major chain, but she chose to come here.

Not many people would do that.”

Amanda met people she used to babysit for, former teachers, neighbours, schoolmates and even the woman who gave her a first taste of the stage in Bishop’s Waltham Little Theatre.

Angie Blackford, her theatre director, said: “I put her in the first pantomime Bishop’s Waltham ever had, casting her as a fairy.

“I gave her a song to do which she didn’t like, but I made her do it anyway and she got a rapturous applause.

“I said back then she would be a star and be on the West End and I was right.”

Daily Echo:

Sammy Cross, former teacher at Swanmore College, said: “She was a natural talent on stage and you never had to direct her.”

Valerie Dempsey, Amanda’s former boss, said: “Amanda used to come here after school.

“I think she’s the same today as she was back then sparkly,
jubilant and a bit over the top!”

Staff were on hand to manage the ever-growing line
of fans, which took more than two hours to clear.