Oscar gesture gets Suffolk twist

WHEN Hollywood stars gather for the Oscars ceremony this weekend, they will receive a customary goody bag full of the finest designer perfumes, clothes and jewels.

WHEN Hollywood stars gather for the Oscars ceremony this weekend, they will receive a customary goody bag full of the finest designer perfumes, clothes and jewels.

But in Suffolk the organisers of a rather more low-key event came up with gifts that were equally impressive for their superstar recipient.

When Lord of the Rings star and stage legend Sir Ian McKellen made a special appearance at Sudbury Rotary Club's charter night on Saturday, he was handed a bag of the finest treats the town has to offer.

Among the gifts was a collection of silk ties made by the historic Sudbury silk weaving firm Vanners. And the Shakespearean actor was so impressed by the ties he has promised to wear one when he appears on the new Lily Savage Show, which is being recorded later this month.

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Sir Ian is one of Britain's finest actors, renowned for his Shakespearian roles on stage and screen. His global reputation has grown since he starred as wizard Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he recently provided the voice for Zebedee in the film version of the Magic Roundabout.

He agreed to be a guest speaker at the weekend's event after receiving the invitation from his brother-in-law Foster Jones, who is a Sudbury Rotarian.

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Having heard about the Oscars, Rotary Club members came up with the idea of presenting its own goody bag to rival anything on offer on the other side of the Atlantic, and the actor was overwhelmed when he found the silk ties amongst the gifts.

Chris Proffitt, publicity officer for the Sudbury Rotary Club, said: "He liked everything in our goody bag, but he was particularly pleased with the silk ties. They were certainly his type of thing and he promised he would wear one of them when he appears on the Lily Savage Show, which he said he was appearing on later this month. He was the best speaker we have ever had, a tremendous guest."

Although bosses at Vanners are delighted to have received such an accolade from a high-profile celebrity, they are no strangers to their products appearing on television.

Presenters Jonathan Ross and Michael Parkinson, and newsreaders Peter Snow and Hugh Edwards are among other famous people who regularly wear ties woven at the Sudbury firm.

The majority of the ties worn by Prince Charles are also made at Vanners, which also made the ties for the Rugby World Cup winning squad.

Vanners design director Mark Hubert said: "The fact he felt inclined to make such a comment about our ties is very satisfying. The ties we gave to Sir Ian are the ones we make for the London based designer label Duchamp and they are usually very bright and flamboyant."

Other items included in the Sudbury Goody bag:

n A book on Sudbury's heritage, signed by Lord Phillips.

n A Gainsborough House book.

n A three-course meal at the Mill Hotel.

n A Sudbury Town tie from the mayor.

n A Selection of beers from Mauldon's Brewery.

n A slap-up meal at Wally's café.

n Golf balls.

n A copy of Sloightly on the Huh, a book on the Suffolk dialect.

n A vegetarian quiche and a granary loaf made locally.

n Cookies and sweet provided by The Secret Garden.

n A print of Bishops Palace, Sudbury.

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