ACTOR Michael Parr was given the Imperial Arts Award at the Pride of St Helens Awards on Friday night.

The soap star, who plays ITV soap Emmerdale's Ross Barton, said he was "proud of St Helens" and impressed by the award winners in the other categories on the night.

Ian Pitts, from the Imperial Bar and Dancefloor, who presented Michael with his award, said: "He's very well deserving. We're lucky to have a brilliant local star who is always singing the town's praises."

Michael, 29, said: "I'm really grateful for this award and as always, it's great to be back here in the town.

"I want people to see St Helens as somewhere worth going to. I get fed up of describing it as somewhere between Liverpool and Manchester. I shouldn't have to.

"There are so many talented people in the town, whether it's sport or the arts, we're really lucky."

Michael lives in Leeds, where Emmerdale is filmed.

He said: "I've just come back from a holiday in California. We saw Arnold Schwarzenegger walking down Santa Monica Boulevard - it doesn't get any better.

"Now it's back to work and and I've currently no plans to leave Emmerdale."

On social media website Twitter, Michael thanked his granddad, who was there with him, describing him as his "hero".

The actor has been involved in explosive storylines this year, one of which involved him pretending to have left the show while his character was 'killed off'.

He won four Inside Soap Awards in October including best actor and sexiest male.