Rock star's welcome for X Factor finalist Luke
X Factor finalist Luke Friend was given the rock star treatment when he made a hero's return to his home town yesterday.
In scenes never before witnessed in the sleepy South Devon resort, the red carpet was rolled out for the teenage singing sensation as massive crowds welcomed him back to Teignmouth and Newton Abbot.
Then in the evening, the young star, accompanied by his X Factor mentor Louis Walsh, played to a packed Great Hall at Exeter University.
But the day really belonged to Luke, who was clearly delighted to be back in South Devon.
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"I cannot believe the reaction," said the teenager, who was almost lost for words.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see all these people here for me."
He said he was overjoyed to be in the final of the popular talent contest.
"It felt amazing to go through to the final, it's wicked. It was emotional on Sunday's show as I wanted to be there in the final. I want this so much and I work so hard. I want to do my best and try to win it."
Luke was welcomed home to Teignmouth by his parents, Sue and Steve, and other members of his family.
Mum Sue Potts said: "I'm excited and thrilled to see him, and I can't thank people enough for their support."
After the ecstatic reunion, Luke went on to meet fans in Newton Abbot's Lemon Jelli cafe.
The town was packed with excited visitors, many of whom had made banners and travelled hundreds of miles to see their idol.
Newton Abbot mayor Louise Cooke said: "It's great he's come back as he's so busy.
"It was nail-biting to watch on Sunday. It's wonderful so many have come to Newton Abbot to see him."
Mary Moore, manager at the Lemon Jelli cafe, where he has played in the past, was thrilled to welcome Luke and his friends from Coombes-head Academy.
"It's great he's chosen to come to us," she said.
"He's doing so well in the competition. Young people often get a bad press, so it's good someone so young is doing something positive in the media.
"What makes it even better is Luke is a nice lad and is so focused and an original talent.
"The town has been buzzing with excitement."
This time last year Luke was a student a Coombeshead Academy and now is known around the country for his amazing singing talent.
The X Factor live final is on Saturday at 8pm on ITV.