RUSSELL Brand, the man who went from Hathaway Road to the Hollywood red carpet, made a hero’s return to Thurrock.

The stand-up comedian turned actor was back in Grays on Monday to open a shop for mental health charity, Thurrock Mind, after being invited by school pal Sammy Crooks.

He arrived shortly before 4.30pm, greeted by a crowd that had built throughout the afternoon, and spent just under an hour meeting and having photos taken with fans, giving a short speech about mental health and formally declaring Grays’ newest shop open.

He told the Gazette: “I’ve loved being back in Grays. It’s a bit mental, they’ve replaced the McDonald’s with a betting shop and it seems like it’s more racially integrated now, that’s good. I just hope people are happy here.”

Thurrock Gazette:

Speaking about his recent stand-up shows in Southend, the 38-year-old star said: “They were really good, I loved it. The Thurrock Gazette was the first time I was ever in a newspaper.

“Jumping for joy, they were always trying to get you to jump in their photographs.”

Dressed in his trademark drainpipe jeans, a grey T-shirt and blazer, with a West Ham scarf hanging around his neck, Brand met Thurrock Mind service users, staff and trustees before venturing outside the shop to meet fans who had been waiting patiently to catch a glimpse of their hero.

Thurrock Gazette:

While in the store, Brand was handed a £3.99 pair of skinny jeans by store manager Sheila Priest and offered to donate his own items.

He said: “I’m very glad to be involved with Mind because my mate Sam who asked me to come here, his mum worked for Mind while I was growing up, so I was aware of it and as a little kid just thought it was to do with nutters.

“There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness and unfortunately I’ve suffered with it myself so now I know it’s just a normal thing that happens to normal people. This endeavour is a really good one.”