A CLOSE friend of Jahmene Douglas has told how the caring X Factor star performed an emotional tribute at her mother’s wake before shooting to fame on the hit show.

Mel Thomas, who is backing the hopeful all the way, met the shy vocalist while they worked at ASDA and he helped her through her grief after her mother Susanne died.

The 21-year-old, who is second favourite to win the show, sung Amazing Grace at the wake, which was held at the Moonrakers pub in Stratton a year to the day yesterday.

Mel told how she never had a doubt he would shoot to fame.

She said: “He’s amazing. I’m really proud of him. At my mum’s wake he turned up with the biggest bouquet I’ve ever seen and sang some lovely songs.

“He’s just little Jahmene when you look at him but then he comes out with this big voice. You just have to look twice. It’s amazing how that voice comes out of such a small person.

“I never had any doubt he would be famous. I just hope the show doesn’t change who he is.

“He’s such a gentleman. He came to the cinema with me and my friend once and wouldn’t let us pay for anything. We had to hide the money in his popcorn.”

Mel, 41, says she cries every time she watches Jahmene, a former Swindon Talent winner, on the ITV1 show.

She said: “It’s quite emotional watching him because he helped me get through my mum’s death and I spend a lot of time with him. He’s a lot more grown up than he looks on TV.

“Even if he doesn’t win that’s it for him now, he doesn’t need it to take him anywhere.Words can’t really describe how I feel for him.

“I feel like I’m his second mum. I’m older than him but to have a friend of such a young age who is so talented is amazing.”

Jahmania was at fever pitch at ASDA Walmart in West Swindon yesterday as members of staff put on face masks to back their colleague.

Store manager Richard Henry said: “It’s fantastic for the store. We knew he could sing but didn’t realise he was that good. He’s quite a shy guy but really nice and gentle. I hope he goes on to pursue his career in music because it would be nice to think he started here. I think if he came back now he would be mobbed every second of the day.”

Jahmene will bid for fame on the first live shows broadcast on ITV1 from 8pm tonight and the same time tomorrow.