Ed Sheeran is to give three local unsigned acts the chance to perform in front of a crowd of up to 45,000 people as part of his homecoming shows.

The singer is to end his two-year tour supporting his Divide album with four gigs in Chantry Park, Ipswich.

BBC Introducing in Suffolk has been asked to pick an act for each of the first three nights of the August dates.

Richard Haugh, who co-presents the radio show, said it was an “incredibly kind gesture” from Sheeran.

The global chart-topper was born in Yorkshire but moved to Suffolk at a young age. He grew up in Framlingham and played at numerous venues around the county.

BBC Introducing in Suffolk supported his early career – playing his music, hosting a gig with him at a pub in Woodbridge, and selecting him to play at the Harvest at Jimmy’s Festival in 2010.

“We were privileged to see Ed hone his craft in the small venues of Suffolk all those years ago and feel extremely grateful that he’s giving the next generation of talent a helping hand,” Mr Haugh said.

The acts will be chosen from those who have added their music to the BBC Introducing Uploader website by Thursday, 4 July.

BBC Introducing has shows across the network of local radio stations as well as on BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music and BBC 1Xtra.

It also runs stages at major festivals including Glastonbury, Latitude and Reading/Leeds, with artists nominated by the local teams.

Sheeran’s return to Ipswich is being celebrated across the town. His father, John, is curating an exhibition charting his son’s rise from schoolboy to global superstar at the town’s Christchurch Mansion, while a tribute in the shape of a decorated elephant is part of an Elmer art trail this summer.

Miss Joseph, who has been co-presenting the BBC Introducing in Suffolk show since October, said she was “thrilled” Sheeran was willing to help local acts.

The three local artists will be picked to play a 20-minute opening set at the sold-out gigs on 23, 24 and 25 August. The opening act for the final night of the run will be selected by local skateboard company Hoax, via a national battle of the bands competition.

The Darkness, who also hail from Suffolk, Lewis Capaldi and Passenger have been announced as the other supports.