Dame Helen’s tribute to Westcliff teacher who got her acting

Remembering her teachers – Dame Helen accepting the award (Picture: Ian West/PA Wire)

Remembering her teachers – Dame Helen accepting the award (Picture: Ian West/PA Wire)

First published in News by

DAME Helen Mirren has paid a heartfelt and very public tribute to the English teacher who set her on her path to stardom.

Dame Helen received the British Academy Fellowship prize from Prince William at the glittering ceremony in the Royal Opera House, in London, on Sunday night.

During her acceptance speech, the 68-year-old actress thanked her former teacher at St Bernard’s School, in Westcliff.

She told the glittering assembly: “My journey to this place began with a great teacher, Alice Welding, who died just two weeks ago at age 102.

“She alone was the person who encouraged me to become an actor, and I’d like to thank all those teachers now.

“My teachers in film, of course, included directors, several of whom are here today.”

Dame Helen was born in Hammersmith but brought up in Leigh. She attended St Bernard’s School, Westcliff, and acted in school productions.

She added: “This is the greatest professional honour I can imagine, certainly one I never dreamed of as a schoolgirl in Westcliff-on- Sea.”

She went on to enjoy a long career in TV and film, her most notable roles including the lead in the TV thriller series, Prime Suspect, and the title role in the the feature film, the Queen, in 2006.

Mrs Welding, who died on January 30, was an English teacher at St Bernard’s, in Milton Road, Westcliff. She lived in Leigh Park Road, Leigh.

Maureen Ollett, a friend of Mrs Welding for 30 years, met her through the Southend branch of the National Council of Women and described her as “extremely lively”.

Mrs Ollett, chairman of the Southend organisation, said: “I was gobsmacked to be watching the Baftas, and for Helen Mirren to mention Alice.

“It was wonderful for her to acknowledge the influence she had on her and her life like that.

“Helen visited Alice the last time she came to Southend and they had kept in touch.”

Mrs Ollett added: “Although she was 102, she had the outlook and forward-thinking of someone much younger.

“She was extremely lively and in full mind right to the end. In her nineties she still attended our national meetings, and continued locally until she had a fall last summer.

“She was always interested in education and making sure we did whatever we could to further the interests of women.”

In the death notice published in the Echo, Mrs Welding’s family described her as “Beloved wife of the late Frederick Welding. Inspirational English teacher to many generations at St.Bernard’s School.”

Her funeral will be at Southend Crematorium on Monday, at 11.20am. Flowers should not be sent, though the family welcomes donations to either Friends of Essex Churches or the RSPB c/o S Stibbards & Sons undertakers, in Leigh.

Comments (9)

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7:49pm Tue 18 Feb 14

ThisYear says...

“She alone was the person who encouraged me to become an actor"

Probably a righteous woman who saw past Helen Mirren's Traveller ethnicity..
“She alone was the person who encouraged me to become an actor" Probably a righteous woman who saw past Helen Mirren's Traveller ethnicity.. ThisYear
  • Score: -7

12:47am Wed 19 Feb 14

Chris Flunk says...

I know, I know, don't feed the trolls and all that but I'm going to bite anyway.

Isn't Helen Mirren the daughter of a Russian diplomat's son and Queen Victoria's butcher's granddaughter? I don't really see the traveller connection there, unless her father being a civil servant in the Ministry of Transport means he qualifies.

She has said that there is "perhaps a splash of gypsy blood" in her distant maternal ancestry but in order for someone to see past her possible "traveller ethnicity", she'd certainly have to make them aware of it in the first place.
I know, I know, don't feed the trolls and all that but I'm going to bite anyway. Isn't Helen Mirren the daughter of a Russian diplomat's son and Queen Victoria's butcher's granddaughter? I don't really see the traveller connection there, unless her father being a civil servant in the Ministry of Transport means he qualifies. She has said that there is "perhaps a splash of gypsy blood" in her distant maternal ancestry but in order for someone to see past her possible "traveller ethnicity", she'd certainly have to make them aware of it in the first place. Chris Flunk
  • Score: 4

1:39am Wed 19 Feb 14

AlwaysHoping says...

My mum was on the same ward as Alice. She was a lovely lady and brightened the days She had wonderful, colourful stories of her life. We were just in awe of her. Lovely lady will always be remembered. xx
My mum was on the same ward as Alice. She was a lovely lady and brightened the days She had wonderful, colourful stories of her life. We were just in awe of her. Lovely lady will always be remembered. xx AlwaysHoping
  • Score: 6

1:44pm Wed 19 Feb 14

ThisYear says...

Chris Flunk wrote:
I know, I know, don't feed the trolls and all that but I'm going to bite anyway.

Isn't Helen Mirren the daughter of a Russian diplomat's son and Queen Victoria's butcher's granddaughter? I don't really see the traveller connection there, unless her father being a civil servant in the Ministry of Transport means he qualifies.

She has said that there is "perhaps a splash of gypsy blood" in her distant maternal ancestry but in order for someone to see past her possible "traveller ethnicity", she'd certainly have to make them aware of it in the first place.
You feel because I made a comment you dont agree with I am a troll?

You must feel you live in the land of the trolls, being surrounded by them in your daily life..

HM is quite proud of her Traveller connection, I know I've heard her say it to Tracy Emin who is also proud of her Traveller connection...Ronnie Woods didn't hear it, he came in later but he is also proud of his Traveller connection..

In order for them to see past her ethnicity they would merely have to be aware of it...no need for HM to inform or make mention of it.

Unless you are implying she hid it to avoid...well the usual stuff.
[quote][p][bold]Chris Flunk[/bold] wrote: I know, I know, don't feed the trolls and all that but I'm going to bite anyway. Isn't Helen Mirren the daughter of a Russian diplomat's son and Queen Victoria's butcher's granddaughter? I don't really see the traveller connection there, unless her father being a civil servant in the Ministry of Transport means he qualifies. She has said that there is "perhaps a splash of gypsy blood" in her distant maternal ancestry but in order for someone to see past her possible "traveller ethnicity", she'd certainly have to make them aware of it in the first place.[/p][/quote]You feel because I made a comment you dont agree with I am a troll? You must feel you live in the land of the trolls, being surrounded by them in your daily life.. HM is quite proud of her Traveller connection, I know I've heard her say it to Tracy Emin who is also proud of her Traveller connection...Ronnie Woods didn't hear it, he came in later but he is also proud of his Traveller connection.. In order for them to see past her ethnicity they would merely have to be aware of it...no need for HM to inform or make mention of it. Unless you are implying she hid it to avoid...well the usual stuff. ThisYear
  • Score: -4

8:46pm Wed 19 Feb 14

Chris Flunk says...

ThisYear wrote:
Chris Flunk wrote:
I know, I know, don't feed the trolls and all that but I'm going to bite anyway.

Isn't Helen Mirren the daughter of a Russian diplomat's son and Queen Victoria's butcher's granddaughter? I don't really see the traveller connection there, unless her father being a civil servant in the Ministry of Transport means he qualifies.

She has said that there is "perhaps a splash of gypsy blood" in her distant maternal ancestry but in order for someone to see past her possible "traveller ethnicity", she'd certainly have to make them aware of it in the first place.
You feel because I made a comment you dont agree with I am a troll?

You must feel you live in the land of the trolls, being surrounded by them in your daily life..

HM is quite proud of her Traveller connection, I know I've heard her say it to Tracy Emin who is also proud of her Traveller connection...Ronnie Woods didn't hear it, he came in later but he is also proud of his Traveller connection..

In order for them to see past her ethnicity they would merely have to be aware of it...no need for HM to inform or make mention of it.

Unless you are implying she hid it to avoid...well the usual stuff.
Nope, I'm basing my assumption on the fact that you are always looking for an argument. You are normally off topic, just as you were here. Helen's "ethnicity" has nothing to do with this story. You were just fishing for a reaction.

R.I.P. Alice. She was obviously an inspiration to many pupils at St. Bernard's.
[quote][p][bold]ThisYear[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Chris Flunk[/bold] wrote: I know, I know, don't feed the trolls and all that but I'm going to bite anyway. Isn't Helen Mirren the daughter of a Russian diplomat's son and Queen Victoria's butcher's granddaughter? I don't really see the traveller connection there, unless her father being a civil servant in the Ministry of Transport means he qualifies. She has said that there is "perhaps a splash of gypsy blood" in her distant maternal ancestry but in order for someone to see past her possible "traveller ethnicity", she'd certainly have to make them aware of it in the first place.[/p][/quote]You feel because I made a comment you dont agree with I am a troll? You must feel you live in the land of the trolls, being surrounded by them in your daily life.. HM is quite proud of her Traveller connection, I know I've heard her say it to Tracy Emin who is also proud of her Traveller connection...Ronnie Woods didn't hear it, he came in later but he is also proud of his Traveller connection.. In order for them to see past her ethnicity they would merely have to be aware of it...no need for HM to inform or make mention of it. Unless you are implying she hid it to avoid...well the usual stuff.[/p][/quote]Nope, I'm basing my assumption on the fact that you are always looking for an argument. You are normally off topic, just as you were here. Helen's "ethnicity" has nothing to do with this story. You were just fishing for a reaction. R.I.P. Alice. She was obviously an inspiration to many pupils at St. Bernard's. Chris Flunk
  • Score: 3

10:20pm Wed 19 Feb 14

ThisYear says...

Chris Flunk wrote:
ThisYear wrote:
Chris Flunk wrote:
I know, I know, don't feed the trolls and all that but I'm going to bite anyway.

Isn't Helen Mirren the daughter of a Russian diplomat's son and Queen Victoria's butcher's granddaughter? I don't really see the traveller connection there, unless her father being a civil servant in the Ministry of Transport means he qualifies.

She has said that there is "perhaps a splash of gypsy blood" in her distant maternal ancestry but in order for someone to see past her possible "traveller ethnicity", she'd certainly have to make them aware of it in the first place.
You feel because I made a comment you dont agree with I am a troll?

You must feel you live in the land of the trolls, being surrounded by them in your daily life..

HM is quite proud of her Traveller connection, I know I've heard her say it to Tracy Emin who is also proud of her Traveller connection...Ronnie Woods didn't hear it, he came in later but he is also proud of his Traveller connection..

In order for them to see past her ethnicity they would merely have to be aware of it...no need for HM to inform or make mention of it.

Unless you are implying she hid it to avoid...well the usual stuff.
Nope, I'm basing my assumption on the fact that you are always looking for an argument. You are normally off topic, just as you were here. Helen's "ethnicity" has nothing to do with this story. You were just fishing for a reaction.

R.I.P. Alice. She was obviously an inspiration to many pupils at St. Bernard's.
Im sorry but it would seem its you who is looking for an argument...I will just ignore your argumentative comments.

Alice did the film and theatre world a very good turn by encouraging Helen to become an actress...she did so without fear or favour...Helen has won so many awards and it all started with Alice.
[quote][p][bold]Chris Flunk[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ThisYear[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Chris Flunk[/bold] wrote: I know, I know, don't feed the trolls and all that but I'm going to bite anyway. Isn't Helen Mirren the daughter of a Russian diplomat's son and Queen Victoria's butcher's granddaughter? I don't really see the traveller connection there, unless her father being a civil servant in the Ministry of Transport means he qualifies. She has said that there is "perhaps a splash of gypsy blood" in her distant maternal ancestry but in order for someone to see past her possible "traveller ethnicity", she'd certainly have to make them aware of it in the first place.[/p][/quote]You feel because I made a comment you dont agree with I am a troll? You must feel you live in the land of the trolls, being surrounded by them in your daily life.. HM is quite proud of her Traveller connection, I know I've heard her say it to Tracy Emin who is also proud of her Traveller connection...Ronnie Woods didn't hear it, he came in later but he is also proud of his Traveller connection.. In order for them to see past her ethnicity they would merely have to be aware of it...no need for HM to inform or make mention of it. Unless you are implying she hid it to avoid...well the usual stuff.[/p][/quote]Nope, I'm basing my assumption on the fact that you are always looking for an argument. You are normally off topic, just as you were here. Helen's "ethnicity" has nothing to do with this story. You were just fishing for a reaction. R.I.P. Alice. She was obviously an inspiration to many pupils at St. Bernard's.[/p][/quote]Im sorry but it would seem its you who is looking for an argument...I will just ignore your argumentative comments. Alice did the film and theatre world a very good turn by encouraging Helen to become an actress...she did so without fear or favour...Helen has won so many awards and it all started with Alice. ThisYear
  • Score: -1

8:03am Thu 20 Feb 14

CaptainBlackadder says...

The Echo always likes to report on Mirren and remind us how she used to live in Westcliff,forgetting how in her autobiography she slagged off the area and that part of her life.
The Echo always likes to report on Mirren and remind us how she used to live in Westcliff,forgetting how in her autobiography she slagged off the area and that part of her life. CaptainBlackadder
  • Score: 3

4:40pm Thu 20 Feb 14

Southend&Proud says...

Armpit of England she called Southend so really don't have much time for her.
Become famous and then slate your town....Great!
Armpit of England she called Southend so really don't have much time for her. Become famous and then slate your town....Great! Southend&Proud
  • Score: 0

7:52pm Thu 20 Feb 14

ThisYear says...

Southend&Proud wrote:
Armpit of England she called Southend so really don't have much time for her.
Become famous and then slate your town....Great!
She could of called it worse..
[quote][p][bold]Southend&Proud[/bold] wrote: Armpit of England she called Southend so really don't have much time for her. Become famous and then slate your town....Great![/p][/quote]She could of called it worse.. ThisYear
  • Score: 3

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