Blessed are the children

A LOVEABLE, larger-than-life actor brought his big heart and even bigger voice to a Chobham school on Tuesday to help reveal the secrets of a time capsule buried 20 years ago.

St Lawrence Primary pupils were thrilled to be in the company of Brian Blessed – and his distinctive, full-bodied, sonorous bellow didn’t let them down as it resonated across the school.

OVERWHELMED – Taryn Bennett and Daisy Dunleavy, both 10, and Michael-Lee Hutt, 11 hand Brian presents from the school

OVERWHELMED – Taryn Bennett and Daisy Dunleavy, both 10, and Michael-Lee Hutt, 11 hand Brian presents from the school

It’s hard to believe the all-round actor, who has been a household name for many moons and has clocked up 151 film and TV credits, as well as having undertaken huge amounts of charity work, is celebrating his 78th birthday today (Thursday).

Two representatives from each class and Headteacher Debbie Cotterall witnessed Brian, aka Mr Grumpy Rabbit from Pepper Pig, burrow beneath the library floor to retrieve the capsule.

Meanwhile, the rest of the staff and children – plus about 25 visitors including former pupils – nestled in the assembly hall waiting with bated breadth as they watched the exciting process taking shape on a big screen via Skype.

Brian then whisked the capsule to the hall to open in front of the whole school.

As well as old photos, it contained the original assembly by the headteacher in 1994, along with aspirations and expectations of the children from the decade.

Pupils from that year, and in some cases their parents, read out some of them. One ex girl read: “I want to be a firefighter when I grow up” She added: “I’m not, but my dad is.”

Another said: “People will have helicopters instead of cars.”

The event was the brainchild of Donna McCarthy, who organised everything with the help of Rebecca Knight. Donna said: “Each current child has written their own aspirations to bury, reflecting the same way as the previous capsule with Mrs Cotterall’s assembly.”

Brian, from Windlesham, captivated and surprised his audience with his booming voice and funny stories. He even had them yodelling ‘Tarzan- style’ at the tops of their voices.

The school sang Brian their signature Chobham song, and later presented him with a book card put together by all the pupils chosing their favourite of his many characters, slabs of chocolate and some Chobham honey.

Brian talked of his own aspirations and told them he had met with Professor Brian Cox and was going to be the oldest person to go to the International Space Station. He said: “We are the children of stardust and I am going into space. I will send you a message next year. I think we’ll all be going into space.”

Then nine-year-old Henry Lancashire took Brian by surprise when he showed him a photo of his wedding with Hildegarde Neil in Woking in 1978, the couple wearing handcuffs supplied by Henry’s policeman grandad, who was standing behind them.

Brian told the News & Mail: “We must never lose the child in us. Children are our future and I am dedicated to them. Children are my religion.”


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