A FORMER factory worker who reached the top ten of a televised talent contest is living his dream on board the Titanic memorial cruise.

Ross Dixon, 21, from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has swapped the steel industry for singing at sea and joined the entertainment team on board the cruise ship Balmoral.

The liner is following the route sailed by the Titanic to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship.

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The vessel set sail from Southampton on Tuesday – 100 years to the day since Titanic embarked on her doomed voyage from the same port – and will mark the anniversary of the disaster with a commemorative “sail over”

the exact spot where the vessel sank in the Atlantic after hitting an iceberg.

Former Woodham Community Technology College pupil Mr Dixon just missed out on a place in the final four of Sky1 HD’s Showboaters last year and returned to his native Newton Aycliffe, where he went back to work in the steel industry.

But his return proved to be brief as he received a call from the cruise ship entertainment recruitment agency, Peel Talent, weeks later.

The agency offered him a contract as a singer on board a Fred Olsen cruise liner, which turned out to be the Balmoral.

He joined the ship in November and will remain on board until July.

His proud mother, Belinda Longstaff, from Newton Aycliffe, said: “I am over the moon for Ross. He didn’t win Showboaters but he was the only one out of all the others to get offered the contract for this. He absolutely loves being on the ship and is having a whale of a time.

“He has taken to it like he has done it all his life. Most of the others on the ship have some kind of performing arts background but all Ross had done is karaoke.”

As well as performing on stage, Mr Dixon is also carrying out other jobs on board the ship such as organising games for passengers during the day.

His father, Andrew Dixon, who lives in Wynyard, added: “This is going to be an experience and a half for Ross, it is absolutely amazing.”