THS President at Wey Valley Academy
Lord Julian Fellowes gives inspirational talk to students
The audience were utterly captivated at Wey Valley Academy last Thursday with the arrival of a special visitor - actor, director, creator, and producer Lord Julian Fellowes, Baron of West Stafford. This was organised by Mark Chutter, Academic Director of the Thomas Hardy Society. Julian is, of course, our president.
Fellowes has had a highly successful and eclectic career on both the stage and screen. In 2001 he won an Oscar for the best original screenplay for ‘ Gosford Park’. Similarly, the award-winning costume drama ‘Downton Abbey‘ (2010) received multiple awards alongside the latest film versions of the series such as ‘Downton Abbey - A New Era’ (2022).
During the talk, Lord Fellowes explored the work of the international novelist and poet Thomas Hardy and compared two film versions of ‘ Far from the Madding Crowd’ - one from 1967 and the other from 2015. He then went on to explore his own work and life within the film industry. Not only were Wey Valley pupils intrigued by their guest but some of them now want to pursue a future on the stage or to become a screenwriter. One Year 9 student said ‘I found the session absolutely inspiring and it has helped me to focus on my dream of becoming a writer - it has raised my curiosity - I am going to read the works of Hardy and watch the sixties film‘. Another student exclaimed ‘I want to pursue a career in acting and performing arts and Lord Fellowes has made me think that this is possible‘. Julian was extremely impressed by the narrative storylines from the pupils with their own potential scripts ranging from a murder mystery to a piece of social realism concerning growing up in the area. The talk from Thursday will now lead to a competition jointly run by the society and Wey Valley Academy to consider the merits of each completed script.
It was a most agreeable workshop with Lord Fellowes on Thursday and this was filmed by the BBC and aired on Friday evening. The event was also given coverage on Radio Solent, Dorchester Keep 106 Radio, and the Dorset Echo. Academic Director Mark Chutter commented ‘the visit by Lord Fellowes on behalf of the society was such a coup for Wey Valley Academy and most importantly the event instilled in the students the belief that anything is possible.’
Mark Chutter - THS Academic Director (July 2022)