Ipswich: Happy Days star Henry Winkler’s inspiring Suffolk school visit

The Fonz, Henry Winkler

The Fonz, Henry Winkler

THEY may not have known exactly why his arrival caused such excitement among the staff, but the pupils at Halifax Primary School will never forget the day The Fonz gave the assembly.

Henry Winkler , 'The Fonz ' , visited Halifax Primary School in Ipswich and gave an inspirational s

Henry Winkler , 'The Fonz ' , visited Halifax Primary School in Ipswich and gave an inspirational speech to the children and did a book signing. Crystal and Henry Winkler - Credit: Archant

Actor and author Henry Winkler, who played the leather-jacketed king of cool on Happy Days in the 1970s and 80s, was speaking to pupils about his struggles with dyslexia and how he was inspired to write more than 20 children’s books.

Year Two pupil Crystal, aged seven, said it was “the best assembly ever” and she even got her uncle’s vintage Fonzie doll signed by the man himself.

She said: “I think he liked the doll because he wrote ‘cool’ on the side. I think he was really good and it was the best assembly I have ever had, it really was and I enjoyed it very much.”

After appearing on Loose Women, HARDtalk on the BBC News Channel and speaking to civil servants at the Home Office earlier in the week, the 67-year-old star was giving a special talk to hundreds of youngsters all about his own schools days.

He even took part in a lively question-and-answer session, roaming through the rows of children and fielding enquiries about his inspiration for writing, his acting career and his favourite lessons at school.

Speaking afterwards as he signed hundreds of books for the children, Mr Winkler said the response he received only inspired him to do more school visits.

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He said: “I had such a great time. Each one is unto itself - each school, and you can feel the vibration. Some kids are free enough to laugh, some are a little more nervous and don’t laugh as loudly but they are attentive and the through line is that they all listen and it seems to me that they all want to know that they are powerful.

“We have not been here to the east coast before. Yesterday I spoke to the government - 300 people at the Foreign Office and it was exactly the same as today with the kids, except that I go into a little more depth.

“I’m not sure that it’s just the message in the books - it’s the message of living. I didn’t know that the books would have that kind of impact.”

Mr Winkler, who in 2011 was awarded an OBE for services to children with special educational needs and dyslexia in the UK, is on a nationwide-tour that will see him visits schools, libraries and communities across dozens of towns.

Headteacher Anna Hennell James said the visit was arranged through the school’s involvement in the Achievement for All (AFA) project.

She said: He has a magnetic quality that children are drawn to. I think they would have listened to him all day.

“The staff of a certain age were very excited and we have had to educate some of the younger staff.

“The children will remember this, particularly the older ones who will have listened to the words he has said.”

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