Actor gives brilliant performance on home stage

A standing ovation and roaring applause followed a special performance by a television and stage star battling cancer when he returned to his home town of Bognor Regis.

Ben Richards, best known for his roles in The Bill and Footballers’ Wives, delighted a sold out Alexandra Theatre with his one-off show – An Evening with Ben Richards – last Sunday.

The 39-year-old told the packed theatre he was delighted to be performing on home turf, and dedicated his emotional rendition of Michael Buble’s Home to the town.

Ben revealed on Twitter in January he had been diagnosed with cancer.

The former Felpham Community College pupil sang a mix of swing and jazz numbers and some by more contemporary artists.

He effortlessly belted out classics such as Me and Mrs Jones and serenaded the crowd with his version of Bruno Mars’ The Way You Are.

But it was his closing number, You Raise Me Up, which he dedicated to his family, friends and especially his mother, which really blew the audience away.

Gina Harvey, and her daughter Elsa were among those enjoying the show. “It has been fantastic. The last song was so powerful, I doubt there was a dry eye in the house,” said the 36-year-old.

“Ben is an inspiration to everyone and he should be immensely proud of what he has achieved. The show was faultless, I just hope he comes back to perform soon.”

Ben, who has appeared in countless West End productions, was joined on stage by special guest Portia Emare, who showed off her true diva style and powerful voice.

“Both Ben and Portia were amazing. They both brought very special before performances to the stage,” said Greg Bolt.

Theatre spokeswoman Hazel Latus said: “Ben is a star in every sense of the word and is a consummate professional. He gave his all to his audience and they in return loved him back.

“He was supported by a wonderful team of people including the lovely Portia Emare that made his visit memorable and special.”