Lord of the Rings star visits school

A headteacher today told of her delight after one of Britain's most famous actors visited her school.

WOODBRIDGE: A headteacher today told of her delight after one of Britain's most famous actors visited her school.

Sir Ian McKellen paid a visit to Farlingaye High to talk to students about issues of equality and bullying.

The top Royal Shakespeare Company actor, most famous for his role as Gandalf in the hit movie franchise Lord of the Rings, paid particular attention to homophobic attitudes in his capacity as a founding member of Stonewall, a charity that works to promote gay, lesbian and bisexual equality.

The visit came about in part through Farlingaye sixth former Talia Robertson and her involvement with Suffolk County Council's anti-homophobic bullying action group and partly due to the school's reputation for dealing with issues of bullying.

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Headteacher Sue Hargadon said: “This has been one of the most exciting events in my time at Farlingaye.

“We are delighted that Sir Ian wanted to visit in recognition of all the work we do with regard to bullying.

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“It's a really important message and Sir Ian is a fantastic role model to anyone who has ever felt alienated or isolated, or who wanted to raise awareness about a particular issue.”

Talia, 16, said: “It's really brilliant that Sir Ian came to visit the school as this raises awareness of all the good and important work we have been doing.”

Throughout the afternoon, Sir Ian met students individually and in groups. He spoke to a packed hall of more than 400 sixth form and year 11 students and took the opportunity to answer their questions.

Sir Ian opened his assembly with the words: “Today I'm not here as Gandalf the Grey - more as Gandalf the Gay!”

He then spoke about his life in acting and activism.

He left the hall on the back of a ringing speech from Shakespeare's little-known collaborative play Sir Thomas More, a speech about tolerance, acceptance and equality.

Have you been a victim of bullying? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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