Star Hugh Grant in Staffordshire to help out hero friend

Staffordshire | News | Published:

[gallery] He's one of Hollywood's most lucrative actors, Britain's most eligible bachelor, a film producer and, more recently, a prolific campaigner of media standards.

But Hugh Grant left his showbiz circle to make a rare public appearance – in humble Burntwood.

The Notting Hill star paid a surprise visit to the town's rugby club, charming almost everyone who went out to see him unveil a new community first responder car.

And he was the perfect gentleman throughout the duration of his two-hour appearance as he met fans and posed for photographs.

Proving that even good-looking megastars have embarrassing moments, at one point Grant dropped a glass trophy he was presenting which drew gasps from the crowd. But the ever-so-suave actor laughed off the clanger, before handing the gong over to its grateful recipient.

Grant was persuaded to help out at the event by his friend Paul Dadge, who is chairman of Burntwood and District Community First Responders.

Mr Dadge, who lives in Stafford, was hailed a hero after helping a woman to safety following the 7/7 London terror attacks in 2005.

Speaking to the 200 guests who packed into a marquee at the rugby club, witty Grant, who looked his usual dapper self in a dark grey suit and blue shirt, said: "It's very nice to be here. I've never done any kind of opening before. You may wonder why I'm here. So am I.


"I got 'Dadged'. I think of Paul Dadge as a pain in the arse. I can't seem to get him out of my life. He is closer to me than any other human being.

"He was on and on me over the years trying to get my help. I have done absolutely nothing about it. The least I can do is unveil this car.

"The CFR scheme is clearly a brilliant thing and it's amazing to think the car can save someone's life. The new car looks very impressive."

Grant, who once famously dated Liz Hurley, described Staffordshire as 'enchanting', admitting that he couldn't remember if he'd visited the creative county ever before but said he thought he'd filmed a mini-series in the area many years ago.


And the A-list celeb even sarcastically joked with one guest that coming to Burntwood was a 'dream come true'.

The London-born actor, whose career has spanned 30 years during which time he has also starred in Four Weddings and a Funeral and About a Boy, chatted to members of the emergency services and volunteers from the British Red Cross.

He handed out awards to groups and companies who support the first responders scheme in Burntwood. He presented gongs to representatives from Cannock-based Veolia Environmental Services and The Marketing People in Burntwood.

Self-confessed Grant fan Emma Wilkins, regional head of community response for West Midlands Ambulance Service, said she was shocked when she heard the award winning actor was going to be there.

The 37-year-old said:" I heard three weeks ago that Hugh was coming down to support us. I must admit, at first I didn't think it would be the real Hugh Grant. I was really excited.

"He seems a really nice guy. I'm a bit of a fan to be honest. I said a quick hello."

Sue Woodward, who is the Burntwood North county councillor, said the celebrity visit had put Burntwood on the map.

She said: "I'm a massive fan of Hugh, who isn't? He is lovely and really friendly. It's great for Burntwood. It puts us on the map. Everyone has heard of Burntwood, especially since Steven Sutton's campaign to raise money for The Teenage Cancer Trust. And now we've got a film star here."

Mr Dadge also spoke at the event, saying community first responders played a vital part in saving lives and said he was pleased with the look of the new vehicle.

Around £25,000 was raised to buy the new Skoda Octavia Scout response car.

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