Star of stage and screen Sir Ian McKellan caused an ‘absolute sensation’ when he visited Northampton School for Boys to discuss lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
Sir Ian, a human rights campaigner and co-founder of Stonewall, visited the school to meet students, tour the school and judge posters aimed at tackling discrimination.
Assistant head Lindsay Greenaway, who arranged the visit, said students and staff alike were left star struck by the legendary actor.
“Sir Ian caused a ripple of excitement, shaking hands and greeting all those he met as he toured the school, in between talking to students at specially organised assemblies,” she said.
“You could have heard a pin drop when he walked onto the stage and the moment when he asked if the students knew what will happen if they did not study properly for their exams and delivered, reprising the role of Gandalf, the iconic “You Shall Not Pass!” was a moment to cherish by all,” she added.
Sir Ian spoke to pupils about discrimination and praised the school for its efforts.
“You are fortunate to be at Northampton School for Boys and in this country,” he said.
“NSB is a leading school, actively dealing with these issues in a variety of ways. Get it right in this school and take it into the wider community.
“We are all minorities through being individuals. No two people are the same but without our differences it would be a very boring world so the answer is to treat everyone with respect.”
Headteacher Richard Bernard said it was a privilege to welcome Sir Ian to the school.
“Sir Ian gave inspiring talks throughout the day to hundreds of students on the imperative value of equality to individuals and society as a whole, with a particular emphasis on LGBTQ rights.
“His words have served to cement even further the zero tolerance approach that the school has towards bullying and inequality in any form and the students and staff will remember his visit for years to come.
“It was particularly nice of him to say that he wished that he could have attended NSB in his youth,” he added.
“I believe Sir Ian’s message today was one of honesty and one that says it is okay to be you – regardless of your sexuality or gender identity you can stand up and say “I’m Still Me” and society should accept that.”