SCREAMS of delight filled the air as singer Matt Cardle made a surprise visit to his former school.
The 28-year-old, who shot to fame by winning talent competition the X Factor last year, returned to Stoke College in Stoke by Clare on Monday.
During the visit, Matt took on the role of a judge in a singing contest for pupils, as part of the school’s art week, and performed two songs.
The former painter and decorator from Little Maplestead, who topped the charts at Christmas with his single When We Collide, said: “It’s brilliant to be back. I love it here and spent some of the best years of my life here.
“It’s a bit weird coming back and being a judge, but the talent the school produces is amazing and the singers today were incredible.”
Matt, who has just finished a nationwide X Factor tour, said the last six months had seen his life “turned upside down and inside out”.
“I’ve been trying to make it for 12 years and am just trying to make the best of this opportunity,” he said.
“Things have been very busy, but this is where I want to be.”
Matt is currently putting the finishing touches to his album, with the first single due out in August – a remarkable achievement for a man who just 12 months ago was still painting walls for a living.
“It’s just been crazy,” he said. “The album is pretty much there and I can’t wait to get it out there.”
The surprise visit was organised by teachers at the school, with pupils aged between three and 16 left in the dark.
Mia Watts, 12, who performed in front of Matt, said: “We only found out he was coming today – I had no idea.
“It was very nerve-racking having him judge my singing as he’s such a big star and he really gives everything on stage.
“The whole school is really proud of him and everyone looks up to what he has done.”
Adrian Marple, a music teacher at the school, said his former student was a positive role model for young singers.
Speaking after Matt performed Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi and Nights in White Satin originally by the Moody Blues to pupils, he said: “It is absolutely fantastic to have him back, although slightly surreal.”
“It is great for the students to see him as he’s one of our own and he conducts himself so well.”