A CLASSICAL singer is celebrating after securing a coveted place in the regional finals of a nationwide singing competition.

Anton Van De Mere, of Victoria Road, Stanford-le-Hope, will sing for a place in the final of Open Mic UK when he performs at the Palace Theatre, in Westcliff, on Sunday, October 20.

Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Anton moved to the UK in 2003, and sang on P&O cruise ships until August this year.

He says his style is similar to operatic pop vocal group Il Divo.

Anton said: “I’ve been on stage since I was six years old singing andacting.Istartedin the school choir, which led me to perform in quite prestigious choirs.

“My biggest passion has always been singing. It isagreat tool to convey messages and in my songs I like to sing about peace and love.”

Anton currently helps out at his partner’s garden centre in Leigh during the week, and works asadrama teacher at a performing arts school in Sevenoaks, Kent, on weekends.

Anton is no stranger to performing in front of large audiences, and his biggest crowd was 15,000 people in a stadium in South Africa, when he performed at a conference.

He said: “I actually get more nervous singing in front of fewer people than in a big crowd. With a smaller audience, every single crack comes through.Ialso have to sing quite loud which can be a little overwhelming, too.”

If Anton makes it through to the grand finals of the competition, at the O2 Arena in London, and wins, he will be awarded £5,000.

He said: “Taking part in the competition is a stepping stone, and will give me the opportunity to perform in front of industry professionals and make some great contacts.

“I want to finish getting some good, original material together.

I’ve been recording in a studio recently and I’m waiting for the last song to be produced, so I can present them to myindustry contacts. My biggest focus is to get a record contract.”

To keep up with Anton’s progress, visit www.anton vande mere.