Former mentor of Hartlepool’s Eurovision star Michael Rice ‘knew he was special’

“It just shows that if you put the effort in to do what you love you will get noticed.”

Those were the words of Ian McManus, the former mentor of singing sensation Michael Rice, who has wowed the nation once more to become the star of Eurovision.

Michael Rice, of Stockton Road, Hartlepool, celebrates being chosen to represent Great Britain Eurovision.

Michael Rice, of Stockton Road, Hartlepool, celebrates being chosen to represent Great Britain Eurovision.

The 21-year-old from Hartlepool was selected to represent the UK in the singing competition after impressing judges and winning a public vote during sing-off show, Eurovision You Decide, last Friday night.

Michael, who won the BBC singing competition All Together Now last year, gave it his all when performed track Bigger Than Us.

He was the unanimous choice of judges Rylan Clark-Neal, Marvin Humes and Mollie King to go through to the final sing-off which saw Michael secure the Eurovision spot.

He will now perform for an international audience in the competition, held in Israel, in May.

Kyle's Dream founders Dawn and Ian McManus.

Kyle's Dream founders Dawn and Ian McManus.

And now his former mentor Ian McManus, who knew the star from his days with organisation that was at the time known as Red Dreams, has spoken of how he always knew Michael was destined to achieve great things.

Mr McManus now runs Kyle’s Dream with wife Dawn, an organisation based on Whitby Street South in the town.

The organisation is a creative hub for talented youngsters in Hartlepool.

Mr McManus said he has seen Michael develop as a performer over the years.

He said: “Michael was absolutely phenomenal on the show, he deserved it.

“I have known him since he was about 12 when he came to us and we started taking him to open mic nights in Hartlepool.

“We thought he was something special then and as we took him to the open mic nights, it really built his confidence.

“He is the quintessential result of what you can achieve if you build confidence in young people.

“It just shows that if you put the effort in to do what you love you will get noticed.”