HOLLYWOOD actress Whoopi Goldberg has signed up to become a patron of community radio station Swindon 105.5 after being impressed by its manager and her team of volunteers.

The star of films including Ghost and Sister Act, invited Shirley Ludford to meet her in New York when the former BBC Wiltshire presenter was honoured on TV show Surprise Surprise in March.

Shirley, who has run the community radio station in Stratton Road for the past six years, was nominated to appear on the ITV programme by her son James.

The television company paid to send the pair on a holiday to the Big Apple, where she met Oscar-winner Whoopi after she filmed panel show The View – an American equivalent of Loose Women.

“I had a good conversation with Whoopi and I asked her would she consider being a patron of the radio station and she didn’t hesitate in saying yes,” Shirley said.

“She said she valued the work that we are doing in the community. I was really happy as I could bring back such a high-profile patron for everyone working hard at the station while I was away.”

Prior to her appearance in London on Surprise Surprise, ITV, had visited the station several times with Shirley believing she was being filmed for a show about community projects. The cat was let out of the bag when pop group Boyzone walked into filming.

Shirley, who received an award from the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, in March, said: “During my career, I’ve met many famous people and during filming the crew would ask who I’d still like to meet and I said Whoopi, as I’d imagine she’d be the same off-screen as on it and she was.

"I respect her as she’s very focused on doing the best for her community.”

Whoopi, 58, joins Lord Joel Joffe and musician Simon May as patrons of the non-commercial station, which supports aspiring artists and gives young people a chance to learn new skills.

Whoopi, speaking in an audio clip posted on Swindon 105.5’s website, said: “I really believe in what is going on at 105.5. I will be back in England towards the end of the year and may show my face in Swindon.

“So, don’t be surprised if you see some strange woman with dreads coming around the corner.”

Swindon 105.5 is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund but also needs to raise its own money to survive each year.

  • Anyone who is interested in getting involved with the radio station or donating to support it can visit online at www.swindon1055.com