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Ben Haenow: The boy who grew up to be an X Factor semi-finalist


BEN Haenow has made it to the X Factor semi-finals – but his family still haven't adjusted to his new found fame.

"He is still just Ben," said mum Rosanna Ward, who went to the Hunger Games film premiere with him two weeks ago.

"I went on the red carpet with him and people are screaming for him, it's unbelievable. You just think gosh, it's Ben," she said.

And Ben's so popular the family even have to queue to say goodbye backstage after the X Factor shows.

Rosanna said: "When we want to go home sometimes I queue up just so I can say goodbye!"

Big brother Alex added: "It's supposed to be a bit of time where you can chill with your family and sign a few autographs but when Ben comes out he's surrounded.

"If you don't [queue] you don't get to see him it's as simple as that. So we have to queue up to chat to him!

"It doesn't get old or boring, it's still amusing to see people queuing up to have a photo with my brother.

And Alex said their father, Mick, even overheard a little boy asking for a 'Ben Haenow haircut' in the hairdressers.

"I just think, Ben, my stinky little brother?" said Alex.

Ben has visited Croydon almost every week since moving into the X Factor house.

"It's been manic," said Alex. "When he comes back it's just for a couple of hours, we've not had a day to chill out and relax and catch up."

Rosanna said: "We miss that, spending time with him. We're looking forward to Christmas, unless he loses and then they can keep him!"

When the Advertiser visited Ben's family at 'Nonna' Rita's Shirley home she was preparing Ben's favourite lasagne and chocolate pudding to surprise him at the X Factor house that night – despite warnings from show bosses that Ben needs to start watching his weight.

"He won't be starting a diet tonight!" said Rosanna.

Ben and Alex used to swim and go to the gym together, but Alex said despite growing up in Holmesdale Road, Selhurst, and the best efforts of their grandfather and Crystal Palace fan Tony, they were never good footballers.

"Our grandad was a football fanatic and we had Palace strips as kids," he said.

Rosanna added: "He [Tony] was desperate for the boys to want to play football. He used to take them over the woods but they'd run off and play hide and seek after five minutes of kicking the ball."

Alex said: "We were horrific, we were useless."

Mum Rita added that her Ben has always been someone who looks out for others.

"Ben is kind, very kind," she said. "If somebody hurt himself he used to look after him. We used to call him 'gentle Ben'."

And Rita always knew Ben had the X Factor and told him to go see Simon Cowell years ago.

"He used to watch Oliver Twist and a couple of days after say you think I could do that? And I said of course!" she said.

The family have had so much support locally that Alex has to leave an extra 20 minutes to get his morning coffee.

"Everyone wants to talk to you about it," he said "It's really nice to have so much support from everyone behind him backing the local lad.

"I don't think we'll ever get used to that side of it."

Alex said the family believe Ben can make it through this weekend.

"I always said he'll make it to the final," said Alex. "But as much as you know in the back of your mind he'll get through, on that Sunday night when the lights are on and you see the fear in his eyes you can feel your heart in your chest.

"We're just so proud of how well he's doing. We want to thank everyone who is voting and all the local people who have got behind him. We're just overwhelmed."

BEN'S BIGGEST FAN BEN Haenow's nan, Rita Ward, has became a star in her own right after appearing on the Xtra Factor two weeks ago. The 79-year-old also appeared in Ben's VT on Saturday and Ben told the Advertiser in his blog the Xtra Factor want her back every week. "I watched myself and thought "oh my word, is that me? I can't believe it," said Rita. "When I go out people say: "We saw you!" "I get nervous at first [filming] and can't do it. But once I've started I don't stop! But that's me." Rita is going to watch Ben in the live show for the first time this Saturday. She said: "I look forward to every Saturday I can't wait to sit in front of the telly and see my Ben. "I watch it on a Sunday afternoon again and again." And Rita said her brothers and sisters in Italy have been watching too. "My niece saw Ben in Hello magazine in Italy," she said. "She must have had a shock when they saw that!"

Ben Haenow: The boy who grew up to be an X Factor semi-finalist

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