Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall handed top award from Customs House as she is made Honorary Fellow

Jade Thirlwall performs at the Customs House event. Picture: Craig Leng Photography.
Jade Thirlwall performs at the Customs House event. Picture: Craig Leng Photography.

Brit Award-winning singer Jade Thirlwall has been honoured by her hometown theatre on a visit to South Shields.

Little Mix star Jade honed her skills at the Customs House in South Shields, appearing on stage on numerous occasions before finding international stardom via the X Factor, which she and her band won in 2011.

She returned home to South Shields over the Easter weekend to be inducted as an Honorary Fellow of the Customs House Academy.

Jade was welcomed into the fellowship by Ray Spencer MBE, Executive Director of the Customs House, at a ceremony for invited guests, including fellow X Factor winner and
Honorary Fellow, Joe McElderry.

The event was also raising money for the Customs House Trust.

Jade, 26, said: “I am so, so happy to have been given this award.

Joe McElderry and Jade Thirlwall, of Little Mix, at Club Del Mar in South Shields. Picture: Sophie.

Joe McElderry and Jade Thirlwall, of Little Mix, at Club Del Mar in South Shields. Picture: Sophie.

"I’m very proud to come from South Shields and to have learned so much from performing at my local theatre.

“From singing there to seeing the famous panto every year, the Customs House holds a very special place in my heart. It’s important to support such an amazing local theatre which
provides so many opportunities for young people who love performing arts.

“The Customs House certainly helped me and I will always support them, see shows there whenever I’m home and take great pride in my Honorary Fellowship award.”

During the ceremony, Jade also received a personalised piece of artwork by South Shields artist and Honorary Fellow of The Customs House Academy, Bob Olley.

Bob Olley and Jade Thirlwall with the personalised artwork. Picture: Craig Leng Photography.

Bob Olley and Jade Thirlwall with the personalised artwork. Picture: Craig Leng Photography.

Honorary Fellowships are bestowed on people who are from, or have been associated with, South Tyneside, who have gone on to make a significant contribution to the development of
arts and entertainment locally, nationally and internationally.

Other Honorary Fellows include Sarah Millican, Jason Cook and Chris Ramsay.

Ray Spencer added: “Jade is an absolute joy to be in the presence of, her simple unspoilt, unaffected nature is a testimony to someone with their feet firmly on the ground and proud
of their heritage.

“We are so lucky that a global icon has loaned their support to the Customs House and we are delighted she accepted an Honorary Fellowship of the Customs House Academy."

Joe McElderry and Jade Thirlwall perform at the event. Picture: Craig Leng Photography.

Joe McElderry and Jade Thirlwall perform at the event. Picture: Craig Leng Photography.

Following the special ceremony, Joe and Jade toasted the night at Club Del Mar and House of Diamonds.

The Ocean Road venues are both run by Kerrie Katopodis, along with the Amari Beach Club.

Kerrie, who also attended the ceremony, added: "The after party started at Club Del Mar where Jade and Joe were joined by friends and family to celebrate the end of a lovely day and then we all moved along to House of Diamonds' VIP suite to finish the night with a boogie.

"It's always a pleasure to have Jade and Joe in the clubs and already talks are underway for both of them to have their wrap parties in the summer ... so we are all looking forward to those."

Mayor of South Tyneside Councillor Ken Stephenson and Jade Thirlwall. Picture: Craig Leng Photography.

Mayor of South Tyneside Councillor Ken Stephenson and Jade Thirlwall. Picture: Craig Leng Photography.