SHE may have played at the Royal Albert Hall two weeks ago, but last night’s gig was extra-special.

Rising star Rumer’s homecoming concert capped what has been a great year for the girl whose friends in the New Forest still know her as “singing Sarah”.

“It’s lovely to be back,” she told the Daily Echo as she prepared to perform in New Milton in the New Forest.

“This is my home.”

The critically acclaimed star answered the call to raise funds for the town’s memorial centre. She sang for free to a packed hall after all 300 tickets sold out in twoand- a-half hours.

Rumer – real name Sarah Joyce – was born in Pakistan but her family moved back to England and she grew up at her mother’s house in Barton-On-Sea.

She used a picture of the house on the back of her critically acclaimed debut album Seasons Of My Soul, which has sold more than half a million copies.

Sarah used to arrange music nights in New Milton and performed for the first time in her teens at the old Speckled Trout pub.

She moved to London to launch her career but came back to be with her mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died in 2003.

The 32-year-old returned to the capital and this year her career has taken off.

Local musicians got a band together to play with her after the charity Common Ground, which works with the memorial hall and set up this year’s community festival, arranged the gig.

Lisa Thompson, Common Ground’s chairman, said she spoke to Sarah in the summer and she agreed to play the concert after her tour finished.

“We really needed to raise money to fix the roof,” she said.

Stuart Plummer, the charity’s treasurer, added: “It’s been overwhelming and it’s wonderful that it’s all come together. She was known as ‘singing Sarah’ when she lived here.”

Michelle Winter, memorial centre manager, said the town had been “buzzing”

with people stopping her in the street to say they were coming as they knew Sarah.

She said: “Sarah was always up for putting music nights on when she lived here. For her to come back and sing will make such a difference here.”