AFTER setting Jahmene Douglas on the road to stardom, Fiona Simpson is hoping he will go all the way in the X Factor.
Fiona, an enrichment co-ordinator at New College, spotted the talented singer in the college foyer when she was organising the New College Has Talent competition in 2010.
She persuaded him to take part and even then he was nervous about performing in front of just 150 people.
Since coming joint first in that competition, Jahmene has gone from strength to strength, winning the Adver’s Swindon Talent ’10 and wowing the X Factor judges.
But it has not been plain-sailing for the 21-year-old, who didn’t even make it through to the audition stage of the ITV show when he applied last year.
Now, with the shock departure of Ella Henderson last weekend, Jahmene has become the hot favourite to win, and New College is fully behind him.
Fiona said: “I get a lot of people asking me, is he really that shy or is it just an act? But that is genuinely what he is like.
“I had to try really hard to encourage him to be in the show and he was so nervous just being in front of around 150 people.
“Every week I am still in a bit of shock, to see where he has come from to where he is now is amazing.”
Students at the college have got behind Jahmene with posters around the establishment and people walking around wearing Jahmene masks.
“Everyone is just really proud of him,” said Fiona.
“At the start of the competition a lot of people didn’t pay too much attention, but as he has progressed you have seen people get more excited.
“Everyone seems to be really behind him and supportive.
“It is great to see someone from the college having so much success and he definitely deserves it.
“I just hope they don’t try and change him too much.”