The ‘Real Gandalf’ answers questions about his life and equality work to Thame pupils

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If there is one thing likely to help pupils pay attention in class it is a visit by a Hollywood A-list actor.

And for lucky students at Lord Williams’s school that is exactly what happened when X-Men and Lord Of The Rings star Sir Ian McKellen walked through the gates on Tuesday to take three assemblies.

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Sir Ian was impressed with the school’s efforts to tackle and raise awareness of homophobia.

The actor, who is well known for his Shakespeare stage acting as well as movie career, was a co-founder of the Stonewall charity which campaigns about equality issues.

The school joined the Stonewall School Champions programme in September.

In his first assembly to 500 sixth-form students and staff, Sir Ian talked about his personal life and relationships – including coming out to family, friends and the public.

He also spoke to 640 Year 10 and 11 students and pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 – who also couldn’t believe their luck getting to meet the ‘real Gandalf’ and asking questions about his career and experiences as a gay man.

School manager, Dawn Armitage said: “Sir Ian owned the stage.

“Both students and staff were transfixed by his thought-provoking performances.

“There were audible groans when he had to leave the stage.

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“We were honoured that he found the time to visit our school and share his experiences with us.

“Sir Ian has helped enormously in raising the profile of our equality and diversity objectives.

“The support of Stonewall staff over the last few months has been invaluable.”

“Today has been a day that students and staff will remember for many years to come and one that we hope will shape us all in becoming more thoughtful members of our community.”

It is not the first time Sir Ian has made the news in this area.

Last year he posted a £500 cheque to an upcoming filmmaker to kick-start his career.

Sir Ian McKellen was so impressed with the movie script by former Mandeville pupil Luke Mordue that he gave him the money towards Luke’s £4,000 production.

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