Bafta-winning television and film star John Hurt enthralls children with stories from Harry Potter at Overstrand school

Actor John Hurt visits The Belfry Primary School, Overtstrand, and reads to the pupils. Pictured with Bjorn Cotton, 9, in the new library.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Actor John Hurt visits The Belfry Primary School, Overtstrand, and reads to the pupils. Pictured with Bjorn Cotton, 9, in the new library. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Thursday, June 5, 2014
7:00 AM

Children at were transported into the magical world of wizards and wands when Bafta-winning actor John Hurt paid a visit to their school.

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Actor John Hurt visits The Belfry Primary School, Overtstrand, and reads to the pupils. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYActor John Hurt visits The Belfry Primary School, Overtstrand, and reads to the pupils. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The actor, who lives near Cromer and has a film and television career spanning six decades, came to mark the opening of a new library at Overstrand’s Belfry School.

The library, which was sponsored by local businesses including butcher Icarus Hines, was built to inspire youngsters to read more.

And Mr Hurt, whose many roles include wand-maker Olivander in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, marked the occasion by reading a passage from the book, captivating the young listeners.

Speaking after a tour of the new library, Mr Hurt said he remembered reading German book Emil and the Detectives as a youngster.

Actor John Hurt visits The Belfry Primary School, Overtstrand, and reads to the pupils. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYActor John Hurt visits The Belfry Primary School, Overtstrand, and reads to the pupils. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

He said: “I didn’t read enough as a child, I came to reading rather late in life and got interested in reading properly and extensively when I left school.

“You have to think something as attractive as this library would encourage more children to read.

“Some people flourish from what they read and literature and other people flourish from their imaginations, but one thing is for certain, reading is a good thing not a bad thing.”

Taking some inspiration from Harry Potter, the new library’s bright colours show a woodland scene moving from day to night.

Actor John Hurt visits The Belfry Primary School, Overtstrand, and reads to the pupils. Mum's and designers of the new library are left, Antonia Neath and Jade Mays with their children, George, 7, and Lily Neath, 8, and Paige, 9, and Lana Mays, 7.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYActor John Hurt visits The Belfry Primary School, Overtstrand, and reads to the pupils. Mum's and designers of the new library are left, Antonia Neath and Jade Mays with their children, George, 7, and Lily Neath, 8, and Paige, 9, and Lana Mays, 7. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

And the artwork was a labour-of-love by two parents with children at the school, Antonia Neath, 31, and Jade Mays, 35.

It took 30 full days of hard work, but Mrs Mays said it was worth it to see the look on the children’s faces.

She said: “It has got to have the fun factor and this library does, with modern meets traditional.”

Library sponsor Mr Hines said he was honoured to have the library named after him. He said: “I was not a good reader but I think if I had a library like this to go to I would have been more encouraged.”

“Even in a world with eBooks there is something quite special about a book, it is more personal.

Headteacher Titus Cotton said it had been amazing to have Mr Hurt at the school. He said: “We have worked really hard to turn this place around and make it a school to be proud of.

“Having Mr Hurt here was exceptional and the children were captivated. He does so much for the community and we are very grateful he did this for us.”

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