Express & Star

Julie Walters meets the real Dinnerladies as she serves up treat for school pupils

She starred in the BBC sitcom Dinnerladies, about the staff of a fictional factory canteen.


So it was rather apt that BAFTA award-winning actress Julie Walters met some real life dinner ladies during a surprise visit to Sandwell Academy in West Bromwich.

The actress, who was born in Smethwick, visited the Academy to meet staff and students who are members of the Walters House team, which is named after her.

Julie greets staff as she arrives at Sandwell Academy

The star of Mamma Mia! Billy Elliot and Harry Potter made the visit after teacher Miss Sammy-Jo Farrell, house leader for Walters, contacted the star's agent to request an autographed book.

However, she received a reply saying that Mrs Walters was due in the area and would pay a visit to the Academy to sign a book in person.

Julie Walters at Sandwell Academy

The actress was met by headteacher Mr Simon Topper and Miss Farrell on the day as her visit remained a closely guarded secret and an early Christmas surprise for staff and students alike.

Sixth Form student Alex Round, 17 and Year 11 student Matthew Woodcock, 16, took her on a guided tour of the academy before a special assembly with Walters House members.

Julie Walters in the Sandwell Academy kitchens.

She met students in English, Science and ICT classes and then visited the Performing Arts department and also met and posed with pictures of dinner ladies who work at the academy.

Year 9 students gave a dramatic performance of a piece they were working on and sixth formers Ashley Bailey and Ellie Emery performed 'You're the One That I Want' from the musical 'Grease,' the upcoming academy production in March 2015.

Mrs Walters spent some time with the performing arts students and staff answering their questions about her career including, which stars she had met and remained friends with.

Julie, centre, poses for a selfie with students (L-R) Matthew Woodcock, 16, Georgina Porter, 15, and Alex Round, 17, at Sandwell Academy.

Following this she met the students and staff from Walters House in the theatre for a specially extended assembly where she answered questions about her life and career.

She was presented with a framed map of the area she grew up in.

Mr Topper said: "What a wonderful treat for the academy students and staff. Julie Walters charmed all that she met and her visit to the academy will be well remembered by all and provided plenty of inspiration for our students."

The 64-year-old received her BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for her performances in Educating Rita.

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