Ed Sheeran performing
Image caption Ed Sheeran is playing four nights at Chantry Park in Ipswich as his record-breaking tour comes to a close

An Ed Sheeran fan has travelled “36 hours in a tin can” from New Zealand to see the singer end his tour with four homecoming gigs.

Up to 160,000 people are expected to watch the singer-songwriter as he starts the end of his record-breaking Divide tour in Ipswich on Friday.

By the end of the run Sheeran will have spent 893 days on the road – beating U2’s record of 760 days.

Gary Mills has travelled to Suffolk from Christchurch for the gig.

He moved to New Zealand in 1979 but has flown his family back to Ipswich for Friday’s concert.

“When Divide came out, especially Castle on the Hill, I was out walking the dog and I must have listened to it on a loop for about 20 minutes,” he said.

“It did bring back a lot of memories of being home and being in Suffolk and it kind of made that link back home really strong again.

“It’ll be fantastic just to be there, the atmosphere, to listen and enjoy the first homecoming concert with everybody else. It’s kind of a dream come true.”

Image copyright Mills family
Image caption The Mills family have travelled from New Zealand for the concert
Image copyright Sky Cam East
Image caption A massive stage has been built in Chantry Park for the gigs

Sheeran was born in Yorkshire but moved to Framlingham in Suffolk at a young age.

Many of his songs reference the county, including his “love song” to Suffolk, Castle on the Hill.

One person who will almost have a front row seat is Tina Cook, who can see the stage from her garden.

“My daughters bought me a ticket so I am going on Friday. I didn’t need to go, I will be able to hear it from here, every night,” she said.

Hundreds of people queued up for a pop-up merchandise shop on Thursday.

Surf and skate clothing brand Hoax, a favourite of Sheeran’s, is selling Divide tour merchandise, including specially made Ipswich Town football shirts.

Managing director Jason Carter said the reaction had been “phenomenal”.

Image caption Hundreds queued at a pop-up shop on Buttermarket in Ipswich

The whole of his old school, Thomas Mills High School, will be watching Sunday’s show after the singer gave staff and pupils free tickets.

The singer’s former music teacher Richard Hanley described it as “a typically generous act”.

Pupils from the school will be performing on stage after their band Salvador was chosen to be on the line-up.

Image caption Richard Hanley said Ed Sheeran could “really hold an audience” when he performed at school
Image copyright Harry Souter
Image caption Ed Sheeran performed in a garden in Ipswich early in his career

The singer-songwriter’s tour has surpassed U2’s 7.3 million record attendance and has averaged 34,541 people per show over the 255 shows.

It is the highest grossing and most attended tour ever.

A free exhibition which opened on Monday, curated by his father John, features a letter informing Sheeran he got straight Fs in a music course after dropping out.

Image caption Ed Sheeran started his career playing venues in Ipswich and Norwich

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