HELEN Mirren is returning to her roots to sign copies of her autobiography at an independent bookshop.

The star, who won a best actress Oscar for The Queen, chose Grindley's in Leigh Broadway because she remembers it fondly from her childhood. Dame Helen, who grew up in Leigh - in Queens Road - will sign copies of her book, In the Frame, on September 22.

Martin Grindley, who co-owns the shop, said: "She will only be doing three bookshop signings for this book promotion and she specifically asked us to host one because she remembers coming to Grindley's as a child.

"She is a local girl who has become a huge international star, so we're very pleased she remembered us."

The book, which is expected to be a big seller, features a collection of photographs of Dame Helen's Russian father's family and her years growing up in Leigh and attending St Bernard's High School, Westcliff.

Helen's seafront boss dies at 95 dies

A POPULAR seafront attraction boss who gave Dame Helen Mirren her first job has died aged 95.

Jean Grecourt, ran Grecourt Amusements, which included the Golden Hind waxworks, for more than 20 years with his son, Henri.

The pair gave Dame Helen her first taste of performing in front of crowds when they gave her a job as a "hustler" to encourage people to go on their rides - in the early Sixties.

Mr Grecourt, of Wood- grange Drive, Southend, was born in 1912 in a small village in northern France called Sempigny, and came to Southend just before the Second World War.

The Grecourt family's involvement with Southend amusements began when Jean's father came to England to put his newest fairground attraction, the Airsport, at the Kursaal. This was followed by the Children's Racer.

Grecourt Amusements eventually had four different rides at the Kursaal, including the Flying Coaster and Mont Blanc.

Mr Grecourt's son, Henri, 64, of Eastern Esplanade, Southend, said: "He was always a very popular guy. To me, he wasn't just my dad, but he was also my best mate. He will be missed so much.

"He was always a showman and must have entertained thousands of people who came down to the seafront."