Under-fire X Factor star Cher Lloyd laughed off her troubles today as she was mobbed by hundreds of fans in her home town.
The 17-year-old returned to Malvern, Worcs., ahead of Saturday’s final.
Cher, who is at the centre of allegations that the show is rigged in her favour, was stunned by the welcome she received.
She signed dozens of autographs and posed for photographs with fans as she arrived to give a private concert at Somers Park Primary School, where she was a pupil.
The teenager was due to be accompanied by her mentor Cheryl Cole but the Geordie judge did not turn up.
Fan Jane Griffiths, 18, who queued for three hours in the freezing temperatures to catch a glimpse of Cher, said: ”She looked absolutely gobsmacked.
”I think she is genuinely surprised how big a star she is. Her life will never be the same again whether she wins the X Factor or not.”
Ashley Hill, 13, who goes to school with Cher’s 14-year-old sister Rose, said: ”I got a cuddle and then had my picture taken by the paps so I was made up.
Mum Denise, 45, added: ”I got a kiss off her, which was great.
”Her Mum Dinah was telling me the whole thing has been a bit surreal. But we all love her.”
After visiting her old school she spent more than an hour with her family in their semi-detached council house.
Dad Darren, 43, refused to comment on suggestions Cher was helped into the final by a last minute decision not to let the sing-off go to a public vote.
He said: ”We are delighted to have Cher home with us. We will not comment on any allegations made in the press.”