A FAMILIAR face in the hit TV series Downton Abbey took time out of her busy filming schedule to drop in at The Winston Churchill School for an Arts Awards evening on Thursday.
Playing the role of Lady Edith Crawley in the multi award-winning series, the St Johns school’s guest of honour – actress Laura Carmichael – presented talented students past and present with awards at an exciting Oscar-style event.
It aims to recognise the inspiring and often exhilarating work from pupils of art, music and drama over the last year, including involvement in the productions of The Sound of Music, The Fox Fantastic and Othello.
Actor Laura explained that her inspiration for acting came from the school’s Head of Performing Arts, Simon Donaldson, when he was formerly Head of Drama at The Mountbatten School in Romsey.
She told the News & Mail: “I owe a debt of gratitude to Simon, who was my first drama teacher. When I discovered just how much I enjoy acting, he give me the confidence and encouragement to follow my dream.”
Laura presented each nominee in a number of categories with a certificate, while the winners also received a trophy.
Afterwards, Laura told the students: “It has been a pleasure to meet you all – you are so lucky to have these teachers, as I was to have Mr Donaldson.
“I feel incredibly lucky that I did follow my dream, and that it eventually paid off; I would encourage you all to do the same.”
Having appeared in all five series of Downton Abbey, Laura begins work on series six in February.
She has also appeared in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, has been working on a comedy, and is soon to be seen in a film adaptation about the life of Madame Bovary.
Simon added: “The Arts at Winston reflect life in all its diversity. They help our students to see an array of problems in a proper perspective. They strengthen human relationships and help make our pupils tolerant and understanding of attitudes and opinions. The Arts encourage the best in shared experiences.
“Our theme for the evening was simply to encourage our students to follow their dreams, find what makes them happy and go for it.”